Saturday, August 9, 2014

Obama Now Claims New US War In Iraq Could Last Months (Years?)

Barack Obama addresses reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, August 9, 2014. Just before taking off for a vacation at Martha's Vineyard, Obama explained that American military involvement in the new Iraq War—really just the next phase in the old Iraq War—might not end for "months". Obama also rejected any notion he should regret having failed to leave a residual military force in Iraq. Obama pointed out it was the Iraqis who wanted all Americans troops to leave the country, not Obama or the Pentagon. In fact, many Iraqis were hoping American troops would stay beyond 2011, precisely because there were expectations that if the US withdraw all its troops, Iraq would fall apart into sectarian violence and civil war. None of this pertains to the American people's view of the necessity for any continuing US commitment to Iraq. The vast majority of the American people agreed with Obama's decision (which was consistent with George W. Bush's decision in 2008) for a complete US troop pullout from Iraq by the end of 2011.
In the course of trying to explain (again) the US military policy in the newest American war in Iraq, Barack Obama this morning, in a South Lawn press update, added considerable fuel to the domestic debate about his actions, by saying the US military mission against the IS (Islamic State) could last for months, at least.

Asked by a reporter if Obama's "ambitions" in Iraq could really be achieved by a temporary military involvement, and would not instead require months or years, the President responded:
"I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks, if that’s what you mean. I think this is going to take some time." 
After initially refusing to give any timetable for the length of American operations in Iraq, Obama indicated that one timetable that could give people some indication of the length of the American commitment, was how quickly the Iraqi government could become "inconclusive" (in other words of major ethnic and religious minorities), and how quickly the Iraqi security forces, already trained and equipped by the United States, could learn to stop throwing down its arms and fleeing at the first sight of Islamic State fighters.

Since the American people have already spent thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars to enable Iraq to become fully functional and capable of defending itself from these very sorts of threats posed by the IS, and it is apparent those efforts have utterly failed, why Americans should draw anything but dread from the nature of Obama's timetable is difficult to see.

In addition, Obama also admitted that the current situation, with the United States having been caught flatfooted by the speed and effectiveness of the IS advance into Iraq, was the fault, once again, of inept US intelligence:
"Did we underestimate ISIL [now called IS]? I think that there is no doubt that their advance, their movement over the last several months has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates and I think the expectations of policymakers both in and outside of Iraq."
Finally, it is worth noting that the Shia Iraqis have responded to this latest US intervention with skepticism and cynicism, as they point out the Shia-led Baghdad government had begged for a long time for US airstrikes and additional military aid to help stop the IS advances—and slaughtering of citizens in IS-controlled areas—and Barack Obama refused to offer help. Not until Americans and Christians were threatened in northern Iraq did Obama act to try to stop the IS.

This sentiment was expressed for example, by Sami al-Askari, a Shia political associate of Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, as quoted in the New York Times:
"[Obama] should have made this decision when hundreds of Shiites and Sunnis were being killed every day...[The Americans are] protecting the Kurdish regional government and Christians, not the rest of Iraq...Iraqis must rely on themselves and their genuine friends, like Iran and Russia, who have supported Iraq in its battle against ISIS."
There is a strong sentiment in Baghdad, in the Shia community, that the United States is acting purely in its own interest and that it will push for a much stronger participation in the Iraqi national government for the Sunni population—something the Shia instinctively, and understandably, have rejected since coming to power.

One of the key elements of the allegedly successful "Surge" strategy implemented by US General David Petraeus in Iraq, was the widespread payment of bribes to Sunni tribesmen, who agreed to stop being anti-US insurgents and to start fighting al-Qaeda. As soon as the Americans left, the Shia discontinued paying bribes to the Sunnis, and began excluding Sunni leaders from effective power. This pushed many of the old Sunni insurgents back into supporting a Sunni movement, the IS, that is considered even more ruthless and radical than al-Qaeda.

Therefore, the United States once again finds itself back at square one in Iraq, with an ethnic divide that cannot or will not be reconciled by the competing factions, with a dire security situation whose solution Obama nevertheless has linked to this reconciliation, and with the American people once again being told by a US president to be patient and to ask no questions (because he has no real answers) about the once again active US military involvement in the Iraq killing fields.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WSJ/NBC Poll: Most Americans Think GOP Is Far Worse Than Barack Obama

Mr. Grumpy, Vladimir Putin, finds out he's last in the popularity contest run by the Wall Street Journal and NBC. On the other hand the Republican Party is loving Putin right now. Why? Because Putin is the only person (or group) the Republicans managed to beat on approval ratings. Even the GOP is liked a little better than Pooty. Which probably doesn't bother Pooty all that much really. But it should really bother Republicans.
Things aren’t so great for Barack Obama. Yes, he’s still President of the United States. The bad news: he’s still President of the United States, and will have to keep doing that job (maybe) for more than two years longer.

As Maureen Dowd pointed out today, if Obama could manage to get the thoroughly despised Republican Party to impeach him, and better yet convict him, the President would be freed of a job he seems to be bored doing, and Americans would happily put the last nail in the coffin of the decrepit old-white-man’s GOP.

And that brings us to the more amazing point of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, which showed Obama getting his worst job approval number ever in that poll (40%).

Sounds pretty bad huh?

But, guess what. Barack Obama is more than twice as popular as Congressional Republicans, who currently have only an extraordinarily dismal 19% approval rating from the American people.

In fact, a clear majority of Americans, 54%!—don’t like Congressional Republicans. Only 4% of respondents in the poll said they had “Very Positive” feelings about the GOP members. President Obama’s “Very Positive” rating (at 22%) is more than five times the Republican number.

Now, you may say, well of course Congressional Republicans have crappy approval numbers because they are in Congress, and people hate Congress almost as much as they hate lawyers (which is the number 1 profession held by members of Congress). But then you would have to explain how it could be that Democrats in Congress are so much more popular than Republicans.

While neither party is much loved by Americans, Republicans are clearly the most despised.

Why?

The severe decline in the popularity of Congressional Republicans goes back to the Summer of 2011.

What happened then?

I’m sure you’d like to forget (and the GOP would like for you to forget), but what happened was that Tea Party Republicans pushed the United States to the brink of defaulting on the national debt. Even though Barack Obama was willing to compromise to the point that he might as well have stuck an elephant on his lapel and declared himself a Republican, and he and John Boehner were close to hammering out a very pro-Republican deal, the Tea Party refused to budge on demands that Obama agree to severe budget cuts to obtain their agreement on the debt-limit increase.

The result of this was eventually a downgrading of the credit rating of the US government, which increased borrowing costs for the government by billions of dollars. In the end, the two sides agreed to hammer out a budget deal by the end of 2011, with a threat of an across-the-board “sequestration” cut threatened if they failed to do it. And of course, they failed to do it, and the large cuts in government services were enacted.

One can see that while Congress in general has been sinking into the gutter in approval over the last three years, most Americans blame the Republican Party for the Congressional deadlock, more than they do Democrats. And it has cost the GOP enormously in terms of approval.

Add to this the cartoonish rush to the clown-car right the Republicans engineered in their 2012 presidential primary, where all their hilarious, heinous ideology was in full display before the American people for months, and the decline of the GOP into a post-killer-asteroid dinosaur slump is not expected by most people (even in the Republican Party), it is seen as necessary for the political health of the nation.

In spite of all that, the WSJ/NBC poll shows something that actually doesn’t make much sense. It shows that most Americans are still unsure about which party they want controlling Congress. This represents a colossal failure on the part of Democrats and Barack Obama to convincingly articulate the big difference between the Democratic Party and the GOP. It is a difference Americans intuitively feel should be there, and it is a difference most Americans want to be there—because they so hate the Republicans.

Now, the Democrats have a few weeks to encourage the clear majority that hates the GOP to show up and vote for what the Dems want Americans to believe is a real alternative.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pro-Israel Propagandists Sell Genocide As "Self Defense"

Competition for most heinous messaging amongst pro-Israel propagandists is fierce. Bottom of the barrel—or the big wiener—is this bit of bigotry offered by the elderly, and decrepit, version of Elie Wiesel. That's the guy who actually survived Auschwitz and won a Nobel Prize for standing up against "violence, repression and racism"—unless of course those things are being perpetrated by Israel. Now, in service to Israeli war propaganda, Wiesel affirms his inner Goebbels with crap like "Moderate men and women of faith, whether that faith is in God or man, must shift their criticism from the Israeli soldiers—whose terrible choice is to fire and risk harming human shields, or hold their fire and risk the death of their loved ones – to the terrorists who have taken away all choice from the Palestinian children of Gaza." Moderate or reasonable people might ask if what Wiesel is alleging there is, at the least, a false choice scenario.
Over and over again the increasingly heinous and absurd defenders of Israel's latest round of mass murders against Palestinian civilians have said the same thing: "Israel has the right to defend itself."

That is the hollow mantra of the Israel apologists. Often they will throw in the emphatic, mystical-sounding word "inherent" to affirm the nature of this right, which implies that there is something about Israel, presumably the fact it is recognized as a nation, instead of just a wandering tribe, that gives it this essential characteristic of the right to self defense.

Never will you hear the Israel apologists say: "Palestinians have the right to defend themselves."

Many in the pro-Israel lobby, and the Israel defenders in America, likely agree with Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel, who infamously said about the Palestinian people:
"It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. [The Palestinian people] did not exist."—Golda Meir, from a 1969 interview with the London Sunday Times
This is a much-quoted line, often just reduced to the last bit, or a paraphrase—"The Palestinian people don't exist", which you see plastered around the web a lot these days.

And you see it in the mouths of American politicians all too often. For example, here is Newt Gingrich, sucking up to the Jewish vote back in 2011, while running for President:
"Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places."
Here is more on the "invented people" meme.

It is important that the Israel propagandists deny the right of the Palestinian people to call themselves a people, to claim a right to the land—stolen from them by Zionists—or to exist at all.

Because once you allow that the Palestinians do exist, and they do have a right to the land, it follows they must also have a right to defend themselves from Israeli acts of genocide. It follows that a poor, oppressed, people have the right and indeed the obligation to strike back at Israel's bloody crimes any way they can.

And if that's true—might that not lead to the dangerous reflection that not every claim of the necessity of terror is wrong? Indeed, how could the United States, a nation which has nuked entire cities, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of civilians, ever seriously claim otherwise?

Further, when George W. Bush ordered the United States to invade Iraq in 2003, one of the dumbest decisions ever made by any US president, that single act erased any moral standing the US had left in lecturing to other terror states and organizations about how to conduct themselves in war. Employing mass murder, kidnapping, torture, ethnic cleansing, and massive amounts of war profiteering by Bush's cronies, the United States in the Iraq War established itself as the premiere terror state in the world.

And it sent a message from America to its terror accomplices like Israel to go forth and mass murder all they like. Certainly the US will have no problem with it—how could they without seeming like awful hypocrites? Not surprisingly, this has been the question Netanyahu has been asking repeatedly, as he tells John Kerry and Barack Obama to stop pretending they are upset over a little genocidal aggression by Israel in Gaza.

This immoral license (granted by the US to its proxy, Israel) to practice eliminationism against the Palestinian people is why the claim that "Israel has the right to defend itself" sounds to many skeptics like just another meaningless, or utterly ironic, marketing slogan attempting to justify mass murder.

Strangely, you often see the slogan used by supposed liberal Democrats, explaining their pro-genocide votes in Congress (in league with their more comfortably Zionist Republican colleagues).

Often when Democrats, who supposedly are more nuanced in their views of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, use the slogan, it means something more like:
"Israel has the right to defend itself—BUT—it should not be killing so many women and babies—unless of course they blow up the bodies sufficiently well to obstruct their identification."
President Obama, who is the very epitome of the postmodern, newspeaking, prole herder, always includes the slogan "Israel has the right to defend itself" in some statement about how, even though he is bothered by the terrible slaughter of Palestinians, and he wishes Israel were neater in its genocide, it's all Hamas' fault.

Even Obama could not just sweep away the numerous, criminal attacks by Israel on UN-run schools and refugee centers. Finally, Obama, who likes to posture, in Europe anyway, as a more civilized leader than George W. Bush (like that's saying much), had to denounce Israel's continued murders of Palestinians as "disgraceful".

Not long after that, Israel announced it had won the war, and was sending most of its troops out of Gaza.

We are living in a world of blood and advertising. Morality has left the building. Mad men rule indeed.

Their madness will only get faster and fiercer unless we stop tolerating politicians who so abuse language as to make a joke of government accountability. Repeatedly calling genocide "self-defense" is not transparency or an attempt to clarify an incredibly dubious policy (of the United States providing massive support to Israel). It is complicity in crimes against humanity.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Obama Warns Don't Be "Sanctimonious" In Criticizing CIA Torture—Paraphrases Dumbledore!

Barack Obama explains that it is important not to piss off the CIA by actually prosecuting its employees for doing little things like committing war crimes. You don't want to be "sanctimonious", said Obama, in explaining that American patriots may have tortured here and there, and that's OK, the President argued, so long as the USA learns from its mistakes and promises to do better next time. It is often difficult to tell if Obama thinks he's President of the United States, or head mistress at a fascist nursery school.
In one of Barack Obama’s most amazing press conferences, yesterday the President, who at one point unsuccessfully begged the reporters to stop pelting him with topical questions and instead ask him about his birthday, said that complaining about the CIA torturing people was “sanctimonious”, and that given the level of fear people had after 9/11, it was understandable the USA had employed extreme measures to keep people safe:
"Before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values. I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots."
There are many basic, and dubious, assumptions in that statement, but the most disturbing one is that the CIA tortured people because they felt "enormous pressure" from the American people to address their fear after 9/11. That job, in the face of considerable hysteria, was so tough, Obama claims, the CIA started torturing people. And in spite of this, a lot of "those folks" are "real patriots" he asserts.

And, as I pointed out yesterday, the notion that the CIA torture regime was just an understandable overreaction to people's heightened level of fear after 9/11, is dead wrong. The truth is that George W. Bush exploited fear to justify torturing people—not to protect Americans, but to provide a "smoking gun" connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The result of that, torture-obtained false confessions, helped Bush continue to terrorize Americans into supporting his insane invasion of Iraq.

That fact, which to this day should outrage all Americans, is passed over by Obama as if it was a bit of teenage acting out, which happened so long ago it is no longer relevant. Obama's discussion about the USA intentionally employing torture as an instrument of government policy was made almost without any emotional flavor to his remarks. Obama did not sound outraged, nor disturbed, nor saddened, and certainly he did not sound surprised, because of course, the fact that the CIA kidnapped and tortured people for much of George W. Bush's presidency is not news to most people. 

In fact, one of the first things Barack Obama did as President, which convinced many of us early on Obama's campaign rhetoric about being different than Bush was a pack of lies, was to have his newly-appointed Attorney General, Eric Holder use the Bush-era "state secrets" argument in an Appeals Court case to stop five victims of the CIA's rendition and torture regime from suing the government.

As the New York Times explained its editorial on February 11, 2009 (entitled, "Continuity of the Wrong Kind"):
"The Obama administration failed miserably—the first test of its commitment to ditching the extravagant legal claims used by the Bush administration to try to impose blanket secrecy on anti-terrorism policies and avoid accountability for serial abuses of the law.The case before them involves serious allegations of torture by five victims of President Bush's extraordinary rendition program. The five were seized and transported to American facilities abroad or to countries known for torturing prisoners. Incredibly, the federal lawyer advanced the same expansive state-secrets argument that was pressed by Mr. Bush's lawyers to get a trial court to dismiss the case without any evidence being presented. It was as if last month's inauguration had never occurred. Voters have good reason to feel betrayed if they took Mr. Obama seriously on the campaign trail when he criticized the Bush administration's tactic of stretching the state-secrets privilege to get lawsuits tossed out of court."
In other words, Obama immediately sought to cover up all the worst aspects of the Bush military and intelligence record. In accord with Obama's notion of compromise, to forgive and (essentially) forget CIA rendition and torture programs was the right thing to do—and to think otherwise, Obama would repeatedly insists, is a failure of "maturity".

And that makes this statement, uttered in yesterday's presser by Obama, one of the most cynical things he has ever said:
“The character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard.”
Or, as Dumbledore said it in Goblet of Fire:
"Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon, we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy.”
The thing is, what would have been the hard thing, but the right thing, in 2009, and in 2014 too, for Barack Obama to have done, would have been to look Americans in the eye—which Obama simply cannot do—and admit that the war crimes committed by the US government in fighting the horrible wars on "terror", had to be properly investigated, and the perpetrators of those war crimes had to be held accountable.

But, unless you're some dumb hick, talked into posing for fun shots at Abu Ghraib torture den, you won't be bothered with any pesky prosecutions while being held accountable.

Obama closed the door on going after the CIA crimes years ago, because, he said, it would be bad for CIA morale.

And, as I pointed out yesterday, the notion that the CIA torture regime was just an understandable overreaction to people's heightened level of fear after 9/11, is dead wrong. The truth is that George W. Bush exploited fear to justify torturing people—not to protect Americans, but to provide a "smoking gun" connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The result of that, torture-obtained false confessions, helped Bush continue to terrorize Americans into supporting his insane invasion of Iraq.

The question is whether a nation that fails to hold people accountable, when they directly attack what Obama insisted are "our values”, i.e. the values that hold state-authorized torture to be the heinous act of a terror state, can still rightly claim to hold those values.

Based on what Obama said yesterday, on the CIA torture question, on Obama's enthusiastic support of John O. Brennan’s leadership of CIA attacks on the United States Senate, and based as well on Obama’s view that it is Hamas, and not Israel, which is responsible for hundreds of dead Palestinians in Gaza, the answer to that question is an irrefutable “no”.

Barack Obama has always praised compromise as the instrument of mature governance. However, not every issue compromised is actually an expression of a person's or a nation’s maturity. Many times in Barack Obama's governance, it has been a direct measure of his political cowardice, and his willingness, indeed his anxiousness, to do the easy thing instead of the right thing.

When George W. Bush decided to compromise on the nation’s traditional values, rejecting the civilized understanding (and long-standing international agreement) that torturing people was wrong, because Bush was anxious to use any means to find a justification to invade Iraq—that was bad enough.

But, when Barack Obama, who had come into office promising to change the morally corrupt operation of government perpetrated by George W. Bush, instead did everything in his power to protect the intelligence community, and particularly its torturers, from being held accountable, he revealed that the nation’s most essential values of justice and human rights were also features of a civilized society that Obama would readily compromise.

Obama’s brand of “mature” governing is an insult to Americans—who need an uncompromising leader to stand up to the heinous forces of unrestrained wealth and power—and it is a direct threat to the integrity and the liberty of the American people.

Friday, August 1, 2014

CIA Gone Insane—Attacked Senate—Lied About It—Obama Defends CIA

CIA Director John O. Brennan earlier this year asserting that when CIA's internal review of charges The Agency hacked and stole from United States Senate computers, the Senators making those charges would be proven wrong. In fact, the IG's report proved precisely the opposite, that the CIA had conducted criminal breakins of Senate computers. Worse, the CIA then falsely blamed Senate staffers for criminal behavior. Yet, after all that, Brennan is keeping his job (so far), and the White House is praising his leadership.
The headline tells you all you need to know.

That is how totally fucked the United States and its people are at this point. The government is at war with itself, with the world (of course), and most especially the American government is at war with the American people.

The last time that happened (not counting the Civil War thingy), the government enemy were clearly distinguishable because they were wearing red coats, tricorns, and were shouting “God save the King!”

This time they’re wearing gray suits and red ties, just like their corporate thug counterparts, and they’re shouting “God save the surveillance state from the rabble!”

Even the United States Senate, who this time got shoved by the CIA into the "rabble" file, had until this spring been onboard with the spy-thug view of things. After all, the Senate, controlled by Democrats, was anxious to give a pass to Barack Obama’s spy thugs at the NSA and the CIA. That was true even though the same United States Senate was investigating the spy-thug crimes of the previous administration of it under George W. Bush—and Obama had done very little to change Bush's operational assumptions.

For example, when James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, came before the Senate last year and knowingly lied about whether the NSA spy thugs were collecting mounds of data on the American people, the Senate did not demand that Barack Obama fire Clapper. That is because Barack Obama was responsible for Clapper being there in the first place and Barack Obama knew Clapper had lied to the Senate—and to the American people (like anybody gives a crap about them)—and Obama said and did nothing to fix that problem.

Why?

Because Barack Obama did not consider it a problem.

After all, until Edward Snowden’s revelations let everyone know that Clapper was in fact a liar, and that the spy-thug arm of the government was in fact collecting massive amounts of data on all Americans, Obama was OK regularly lying to the American people as well. In fact, Obama called the lying "transparency."

Even after Snowden's revelations happened, which was really the beginning of the end of Barack Obama’s credibility with the American people, the United States Senate plodded along, basically doing nothing to rein in the arm of government which posed far more of a threat to the United States than the foreign enemies the NSA and the CIA were supposed to be surveilling.

But, as noted above, there was this little problem.

For years, the Senate had been working on a report on the out-of-control spy thuggery perpetrated under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. The latter believed (or leaked that it was his belief) that the only way to prevent another 9/11 from happening was to spy on every single thing every single American did. Also, Bush figured opening an American-owned, internationally franchised, Spanish Inquisition, torturing terrorist suspects, was allowed under the Bush Convention (recommending helpful warcrimes and other tips).

Later, an aide to Colin Powell, Bush's main (presumably non-rabid) public pusher for the Iraq War, would say that Bush’s whole torture regime was run to link al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, so Bush could justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq:
“[The torture program’s] principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at preempting another terrorist attack on the US, but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda.”
When Powell presented his “slam-dunk” argument about Iraq’s WMD stockpiles at the UN, he used torture-obtained confessions from Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi to claim a connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The confessions would later be proven false, and instead of protecting America from terrorists, George Bush’s CIA was operating a terrorist torture ring to supply justification for a war that would kill and maim tens of thousands of Americans—many times the number al-Qaeda harmed on 9/11.

It was this question about what the CIA’s torture regime was really doing—to America—that the United States Senate was looking into answering in a new report. The CIA had been ordered to cooperate in this Senate investigation, but instead, when the CIA realized Senate staffers, who were given access to CIA files, had actually, accidentally, obtained access to a secret internal report on torture that the CIA did not want the Senate Intelligence Committee to see, the spy thugs were quick on the attack. In the process of pushing for a Justice Department investigation of alleged Senate staffer crimes, the CIA revealed that The Agency had been hacking and stealing data from the Senate staffers’ computers.

When all of this first came out, back in March, with recriminations back and forth, Obama’s chief of the CIA, John O. Brennan, basically said it was “INCONCEIVABLE!” that the CIA had done anything wrong, and it was instead those crazy, hooligan Senate people, thinking they had the right to oversee the CIA and everything (actually the Senate has that right and obligation), and also—Brennan claimed—when the CIA’s internal investigation by their Inspector General was complete, the CIA would be completely exonerated:
"When the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous, sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong."
Well, the IG’s report was recently completed, and evil crimes were revealed. But the problem for Brennan and Obama is, the crimes were committed by the CIA thugs, who did in fact break into Senate staffers’ computers, steal data, and then tried to cover their crimes by falsely claiming it was the Senate that was at fault.

When Brennan admitted these facts this week, he apologized but he did not resign. In fact, Barack Obama's administration praised Brennan for doing a great job, and proving "proactive leadership."

Many in the Senate are calling for Brennan’s resignation, saying that he had provided no leadership at CIA, or worse criminal leadership. And they are calling for severe punishments for the CIA perpetrators—NOT the CIA torture-regime perpetrators (they’ve all been freed from US prosecution by Barack Obama)—but for those nasty hackers the CIA allowed to pee all over the Senate’s right to regulate.

It took a long time for the US Congress to feel personally picked on by the US government’s spy regime. The Senate was just fine with the NSA/CIA spying on all Americans. They knew that was going on for years!

But, when the Senate itself got a direct smack in the mouth from the spy thugs, it suddenly woke up to the possibility there just might be a big problem.

Well, not just one.

The United States government is a gigantic mess at this point, and the American people, clearly, are an afterthought to the destructive children in charge.

It is difficult to see how November’s elections could change that. Or 2016’s elections. Or any election.

The system is broken. Having a new cast of caretakers isn’t going to fix the problems. The fundamental assumptions of government and the people running and working in it have to be overthrown, and new, modern, principles of fairness and justice have to be established and enforced.

Otherwise, this decrepit 18th-century political experiment called the American democracy is going to crash and burn into total tyranny—in name as well as practice.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Republicans Love Israel (i.e., Hate Palestinians) But Democrats Are Not So Sure

A new poll by Pew Research shows Americans sharply divided by political party regarding support for Israel.

It is fair to say, on the basis of these polling numbers, that Republicans are solid supporters of Israel, political independents are less confident about that support, but still have a strong plurality in support for Israel, and Democrats poll most conflicted, basically seeing Israel and the Palestinian authority in Gaza, Hamas, as equally to blame for the “current violence” in Gaza.

The numbers break down like this, according to Pew’s graphic:
This graphic a plurality of Americans (40%) believe Hamas is "most responsible" for the current violence in Gaza. But that of course means that 60% of Americans do not think that. In addition, a clear majority of Republicans do blame Hamas more than they do Israel for the violence, while only a slim plurality of Democrats think Hamas is the real culprit in the current Gazan war. Independents are more reflective of the total. The large number of "DKs", don't-knows, suggest that only in the GOP is there strong support for Israel. Some Republicans are thinking that makes the difference a campaign issue, but again most Americans do not agree with the Republican position, and are closer to the Democratic Party point of view. Graphic from Pew Research report.
With such a huge break between political parties on the question, the Washington Post has raised the question of whether the Democratic Party position is dangerously anti-Israel—i.e., so out of the mainstream that it could cost the Democrats significant numbers of votes.

Well, it isn’t exactly the Washington Post’s liberal contingent asking this question, it’s Jennifer Rubin, the Jewish-American neocon blogger for the WP, who points out, in alleging Barack Obama’s “liberal” politics make him a natural enemy of Israel:
“Either out of conviction or because of a lack of support for Israel from his core supporters, President Obama, the most liberal president to hold office since the founding of the Jewish state, unsurprisingly has been the president least helpful to Israel in a time of war…This may give the GOP bragging rights when it comes to being the most pro-Israel political party, but it is bad news for Israel and for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Why?

Rubin says that unless liberal Democrats—which Barack Obama is not, and most Democrats are not—are run out of the White House and from control of the Senate, the “US-Israel relationship” will “go south” (to Alabama?).

Trying to make political points on the fact Democrats are actually disturbed—more than Republicans—by the scenes of horrible suffering inflicted on so many Palestinians, mostly civilians and hundreds of children, by the Israeli military, just might be a big mistake for Republicans.

It is all too easy, and all too compelling (given the plenitude of the graphic evidence of Israel’s war crimes) to see a linkage between the Republican hatred of America’s poor and suffering citizens, and its indifference to the poor and suffering people of Gaza.

For the most part, as I pointed out in my story yesterday, Americans are actually quite ignorant about the reasons for US support for Israel, and about the large amount of money the US is giving to Israel to mount its daily slaughter of Palestinians.

In fact, the Pew Poll shows this with an especially large number of “DK” respondents, in other words people who simply “don’t know” what to think or why to think it about Israel’s mass murder of Palestinians.

And, in one telling poll question, the Pew study shows that over time, this has been where the erosion of support for Israel has been strongest.

Most of the numbers on this question about the proportionality of Israel's response in conflicts have remained static since 2006. While the crazy "Not gone far enough" people—who want Israel to murder even more Palestinian babies—have come back home from their "About right" vacation in 2009, the "About right" smugcluster has also given up votes to "Don't know", which jumped up 6 points from 2006. Americans are still far too complacent or even bloodthirsty in their polling on these most influential foreign-policy question,s but the pro-Israel contingent has lost its clear majority. Graphic from Pew Research report.
Compared to responses over time to the question about the “Israel’s response to conflicts” and whether that response had gone too far or been about right, the “about right” respondents have declined to the lowest level in eight years. But that has not meant the “gone too far” respondents have increased—they have only ticked up two points to 25% since 2006. But there has been a noticeable increase, six points, to 24% in respondents saying they “don’t know”.

The first step to people changing their minds is the erosion of confidence in their previous opinions to a place where they decide it is safer to just say nothing at all. For more and more Americans, this is the case about their former support for Israel.

Instead of viewing the Democratic Party’s more divided view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as a problem for Democrats, the Republican Party should understand that, once again, the GOP is being left behind by evolving public opinion on the most influential foreign policy question the United States faces.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

US Aid To Terror-State Israel More Than $121 Billion Since 1949

Most Americans have no idea that Israel receives more foreign aid money from the US than any other nation—and almost all of it military aid. The figures noted in the graphic and in this article come from a Congressional Research Service report, "U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel", released in April of this year. This report notes: "Some observers, including opponents of U.S. aid to Israel, argue that U.S. assistance to Israel supports Israeli arms purchases without providing sufficient scrutiny of controversial Israeli military actions that—these observers assert—contravene various laws and international norms, particularly regarding treatment of Palestinians."
Many Americans understand that the United States gives money to Israel.

But most Americans would be surprised to learn that the Israeli military receives a substantial subsidy (about $3 billion) each year, from American taxpayers, who have paid Israel more than $121 billion in total aid going back to 1949, about $70 billion of which has been in the form of military grants to Israel, with much of that money paid in the years since 9/11.

This is ironic, if you think about it, because without such robust and deadly military support from the United States to Israel, the 9/11 attack likely would never have happened in the first place. And nor would the last 13 years of overwhelmingly bloody idiocy in American foreign policy, as the US blundered from one insane horror show, like Bush’s Iraq War, to another.

The very existence of al-Qaeda was inspired by a hatred of the West and what many Muslims viewed as US crimes against Islam, the chief example of which was the unquestioning support the United States has shown to the terrorist occupation army of Israel.

Osama bin Laden said, in his 2002 letter explaining to Americans his motive for ordering the 9/11 attack:
“The British handed over Palestine [in 1948], with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals…Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its price, and pay for it heavily.”
Many Israelis were no doubt pleased the 9/11 attacks occurred, because they viewed al-Qaeda, and its claim to be defending Palestinians, as discrediting the Palestinian cause, and they saw the attacks against the US as a guarantee that military support money from America to Israel would keep flowing.

A recent Reuters report explains that government budget-cutting in Israel, in alignment with “a five-year austerity plan” of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, means Israel is depending on the United States to make up the difference in defense cuts.

Even as the United States itself is struggling with budget cuts to all programs, including the military, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice explained the US considers its military support of Israel to be an “investment”:
“Our two nations are forever bound by our shared history and our shared values, and every American dollar spent on Israel's security is an investment in protecting the many interests that our nations share.”
Most Americans also assume that the continued US support for Israel, even the substantial subsidizing of Israel’s military by the US, is somehow in the interest of the United States.

But is this a clear assessment of the facts, based on a clear understanding of shared, and divergent, national interests? Or is it a disastrous evasion from common sense, caused by Israel’s continuing ability to derange, to the point of self-destructiveness, America’s Middle East policy?

Why, for example, do Americans support Israel and not the Palestinians?

Do Americans even know the answer to this—any more than they know they have been giving massive amounts of money to enable Israel to commit the most horrific crimes against one of the poorest, most oppressed, people on the face of the Earth?

Money is policy. And policy has consequences.

Americans need to know what their country is supporting, and more importantly to know why it is doing so. Otherwise, Americans will continue to be bewildered about what is happening in the world and will find themselves once again needing to ask—“Why do they hate us?”

Maybe one of the answers is that for far too long the US has been supporting the wrong side in the most influential conflict of the past half-century. It is difficult for nations to admit they have been so wrong for so long. But it is madness for the US to stay the course of militarily funding the terror-state Israel.