Tuesday, October 06, 2015

U.S. Military Changes Its Story- Again- On Bombing Doctors Without Borders Hospital

As I covered in my previous essay (below this one), the U.S. military committed a vicious war crime on Saturday (October 2) when it unleashed an hour-long aerial bombardment of a hospital run by the French humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières- MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Commencing immediately afterwards, the U.S. military has cycled through a number of bogus, sickening lies. This is the same behavior we see after every atrocity it commits. It starts with flat denials, then like a criminal under police interrogation, digs itself in deeper and deeper with changing versions that obliquely acknowledge bits of reality while twisting them to try and craft "innocent" explanations. But the contradictions and facts pile up and inevitably trap the lying criminal.

The latest story was trotted out by the U.S./NATO commander in Afghanistan, General John Campbell. The previous tale was that U.S. airpower was supporting U.S. Special Forces troops fighting the Taliban in Kunduz. Now he says it was Afghan soldiers who called in the air attack. (The U.S. at first denied it attacked the hospital at all. Who, us? Wasn't us!)

You'd think it wouldn't take several days to ascertain just who called in the strike. The whole thing stinks of slimy prevarication. Of course, when at first you deny the strike at all, that kind of dents your credibility.

Campbell, delivering the latest clumsy lies to reporters at the Pentagon, relegated the murders of medical personnel and patients to half a sentence- the last half too. And he refused to acknowledge they were medical personnel and patients, referring only to "civilians." Here's the quote, which has gotten wide play in U.S. media:

"We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces," he said. "An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat, and several innocent civilians were accidentally struck."

Yeah, that can happen when you attack a hospital. And get him: "We have now learned." Like the U.S. command are just a bunch of passive witnesses, not perpetrators who ordered the commission of a war crime. They're just trying to figure this out. What, somebody claims their hospital was bombed? When did you say this was? Couldn't have been us, because that's not who we are.

And Campbell still won't even admit it's wrong to attack a hospital!

"If errors were committed, we will acknowledge them. We will hold those responsible accountable, and we will take steps to ensure mistakes are not repeated."

IF errors were committed! (Forget about "crimes.")

Of course the MSF hospital wasn't a Taliban position. Although it apparently was an "enemy position," meaning that MSF is regarded as an enemy. Firing from the hospital is a complete fabrication, and probably no more than 1% of the world's population believe that.

MSF had a worthy reply to Campbell's smarmy, grotesque statement:

"Today the U.S. government has admitted [finally!]  that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff," the statement read. "Their description of the attack keeps changing -- from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. 

"The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs. The U.S. hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The U.S. military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical."

This isn't going away as quickly as the U.S. military and it's Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, no doubt calculated it would. That's because part of the international and even U.S. media aren't playing along. (Despicably, such propaganda fonts as NPR and Yahoo! "News" are acting as auxiliary propagandists for the Pentagon- for the most part in NPR's case, and entirely in Yahoo's, which actually rewrote a Reuters piece to drain it of all human detail for a coldly distant and exiguous account.) MSF has been able to get their people into the media. Even Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General who is supposed to be a U.S. puppet, has strongly denounced the attack.

Here's a key fact from MSF. The hospital is actually located in the middle of a compound, surrounded by other buildings. Only the hospital was attacked. Furthermore, the operating room and intensive care unit were specifically blasted. Helpless patients were burned alive in their beds.

This belies the claim of some kind of accident. It certainly puts the lie to the claim that the Taliban were firing from the hospital. They would have had to be in buildings along the perimeter of the compound. 

The New York Times already let slip in a map they published that the street fighting was nowhere near the hospital compound. (See essay below.) We also know from the surviving staff that there was no fighting in the vicinity.

General Campbell, man of great heart that he is, offered his "deepest condolences." This follows a statement concocted by Pentagon propagandists and dumped on the world in Campbell's name October 3:

"While we work to thoroughly examine the incident and determine what happened, my thoughts and prayers are with those affected."

You already know "what happened," because YOU DID IT. And "my thoughts and prayers are with those affected," is standard boilerplate of the most banal and common kind. In fact, the parents of the murderer who shot to death nine people at an Oregon community college last Thursday issued the exact same words, "our thoughts and prayers are with" the families etc. That exact language, "our thoughts and prayers are with," are routinely trotted out after tragedies and crimes in America. The fact that it is mere boilerplate proves the insincerity of the issuers of the statements.

And what could be more distincing and minimizing than referring to the victims as "those affected"? That sounds like people caught in a traffic jam: "We are doing routine maintenance and we apologize to all those affected and thank you for your patience" while we conduct our "investigations." 

The U.S. wants everyone to know that they're conducting not one, not two, but THREE, count 'em, three "investigations." (NPR Pentagon transmission belt Tom Bowman for one made sure we knew this.) So rest assured! The Pentagon is investigating (itself), NATO (which is just the U.S. and the ducks that line up behind it) is investigating, and the Afghanistan government is investigating. You know, the people who falsely claim the Taliban were shooting at them from the hospital. The ones who hate MSF, who planted pistols in another MSF hospital in Helmand province a few years ago and raided it with British forces in tow, arresting staff. That Afghanistan government. I'm sure they'll get to the bottom of this.

Campbell made sure to repeat to the assembled scribes at the Pentagon the news of the triple "investigations." So who can doubt their seriousness? And if three investigations all find the same thing, it must be right. Right?

I could list all the past Pentagon and U.S. whitewashes- OOPS, I meant to say "investigations"- that were, let us say, less than convincing. But an exhaustive list would take up quite a bit of time to compile. So we'll let that go.

I would just reiterate a point that should be too obvious to need making- accused parties shouldn't be investigating themselves. 

MSF has been repeatedly calling for an actually independent investigation.

Chiming in with the Pentagon killers, Obama's chief mouthpiece, Josh Earnest, emitted the predictable disgusting lies which are the precise opposite of reality, claiming, absurdly, against centuries of evidence, that:

"There is no country in the world and no military in the world that goes to greater lengths and places a higher premium on avoiding civilian casualties than the United States Department of Defense." 

Oh. You could have fooled me.

Let's see: the Iraq invasion (est. dead at least 105,000 up to 1 million), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (combined dead 4-5 million), razing of hundreds of cities in World War II, two atomic bombings- I think that's enough to make the point.

But that's funny. I thought the Israeli army has no equal in avoiding killing civilians. At least that's what the Israelis always say after every assault on Gaza. (Excuse me, I mean every time they "mow the lawn," as they call the culling of the Palestinian population.)

As for the destroyed hospital, that was the only trauma care facility in that part of Afghanistan. So far the U.S. hasn't offered to pay to rebuild it. Or offered to pay compensation for the 22 innocent people it murdered. (12 medical staff and 10 patients, including 3 children. Plus 37 people wounded.) So more people will die from lack of medical care in the future. (No victim of the U.S. ever gets a dime without suing. And of the tiny minority who manage to sue, most lose in U.S. courts.)

Nation-building, U.S. style! 

[Quotations source: "Civilians 'accidentally struck' in Afghan hospital bombing, U.S. commander says," CNN, October 6, 2015.]

Monday, October 05, 2015

Why Did the U.S. Launch a Sustained Aerial Bombardment of a Doctors Without Borders Hospital?

In the latest in an unending series of U.S. atrocities (a series that goes back to the nation's founding, actually), the U.S. military launched an hour-long aerial bombardment of a hospital run by the French humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The aerial bombardment, which lasted an hour, commenced in the middle of the night around 2 am local time on October 3rd. The duration and repetitive nature of the attack is important to keep in mind, as the Western media is using the words“bombed” and “bombing,” which implies a single strike, even a single munition. This misimpression slides right into the “accident” alibi lie, which is sure to come next.

After days of evasions and lies in which the U.S. military denied it bombed the hospital, while simultaneously contradicting itself by saying maybe the hospital was “collateral damage,” and putting it about that there was fighting with the Taliban “in the area of the hospital,” a claim seized on and repeated by media, implying right next to the hospital, by noon (Washington, D.C. time) on October 5 the U.S. government domestic propaganda radio network NPR announced that the U.S. military admitted it bombed the hospital, justifying it by saying that their Afghan proteges had requested the strike. The Afghans have been falsely claiming that the Taliban were firing from the hospital. (None other than NPR's own Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman pointed out the day before that even if true, attacking the hospital would still be illegal and possibly a war crime. MSF has vigorously denied the claim. If armed men took over one of their facilities they would have ceased operations there, they explained.) [1]

The Afghans propped up by the West as a putative government apparently have it in for MSF, Several years ago they arranged to plant a couple of pistols in an MSF hospital in Helmand province, which they then proceeded to raid along with British troops, arresting staff. Maybe they can't stand the example MSF sets of providing medical services to the Afghan population, something the “government” utterly fails to do. (Hell, they don't even provide care for their own wounded troops! And the scum who run the military hospitals steals the medicines and supplies and sell them, according to bourgeois media reports.)

The U.S. media luckily has a useful distraction they can focus on- the killings of 9 people last week in Oregon by an unhappy asshole. This, 5 days later, is still a much bigger story than the story of the MSF hospital bombing, done not by a lone malcontent, but by the United States Government.

[Another egregious atrocity barely mentioned at all in the U.S. was the Saudi bombing of a wedding party in Yemen last week, killing 130 people, In fact it was bombed twice- with U.S.-supplied warplanes and munitions. This is part of a more than 6 month old terror campaign which has targeted markets, mosques, and homes, killing over 1,000 civilians so far, with U.S. support and virtual silence by the U.S. media. The Iran bogeyman is invoked as justification. But man, we're getting the full sad violin treatment for 9 people shot in Oregon.]

Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, Barack Obama, acts as if he is a mere bystander to all this, with no responsibility. This is a common dodge with him. He did the same with climate change, granting Shell Oil drilling rights in the Arctic while simultaneously giving a speech about how something must be done about climate change. Or decrying mass incarceration as if he himself has no power or responsibility for how many people are locked up. The pattern is he commits a crime or immoral act, and then exhorts others to remedy the “problem,”

His War Secretary, Ashton Carter, has been uttering vague and anodyne statements.

But let us back up and review the evidence that from the start demonstrated this was obviously a premeditated, deliberate assault, and not an “accident” or “mistake,” words already being bandied about (such as by the New York Times, still the premiere voice of the American bourgeois establishment).

The following facts are all from early BBC reports, which dribbled in over the first few hours after the crime. NPR and most U.S. media ignored these facts, at least at first:

-MSF repeatedly provided the precise GPS coordinates of the hospital to all sides in the conflict prior to the attack, including on September 27. Once the bombing commenced, frantic calls were made to NATO in Kabul and even to Washington. The bombing continued for another half hour anyway.

-The bombing occurred for an hour at 15 minute intervals.

-The U.S. military provided no explanation or apology to MSF.

-The U.S. military issued smarmy, ambiguous statements about them bombing “in the area” and “there may have been collateral damage,” obviously hedging and keeping their options open about whether they would go with a full-fledged, brazen denial, or an “oops, sorry, it was an accident” cover story. In fact, NPR reported just hours after the attack that “the U.S. is investigating whether” the U.S. bombed the hospital. What, you don't even know what you bomb? With all your “precision” targeting and “surgical” bombing? In fact, if you're doing close-in air support of ground operations, you're going to be quite accurate.

It looked at first as if the U.S. took advantage of the “cover of war” to attack an institution it has some beef against. My immediate suspicion was that the U.S. thought (or feared) that MSF was treating wounded Taliban. This hunch had added weight later by part of a New York Times article on the attack. [2] Here are paragraphs 20 and 21 of the article, a safe place to relegate a possible motive to:

“Accounts differed as to whether there had been fighting around the hospital that might have precipitated the strike. Three hospital employees, an aide who was wounded in the bombing and two nurses who emerged unscathed, said that there had been no fighting in the hospital’s immediate vicinity and no Taliban fighters in the hospital.

But a Kunduz police spokesman, Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, said Taliban fighters had entered the hospital and were using it as a firing position. The hospital treated the wounded from all sides of the conflict, a policy that has long irked Afghan security forces. In a Twitter post, Arjan Hehenkamp, director of Doctors Without Borders in the Netherlands, denied that Taliban fighters had been in the hospital, saying that only staff, patients and caretakers had been inside. [My emphasis.]”

The article also mentions that the Afghans used attack helicopters in Kunduz, so it's possible the Afghans were the criminal attackers. But paragraph five cites an anonymous U.S. official saying that “the attack may have been carried out by an American AC-130 gunship that was supporting Special Operations forces on the ground in Kunduz,” in the Times words. And U.S. Special Forces are notorious for their unrestrained, immoral violence and ruthlessness. And the scale of damage, coupled with the duration of the attack, would point towards the AC-130 gunship, an extremely destructive “weapons platform.”

Moreover, the fact that the U.S. wasn't vociferously denying that they did it, and instead pointed their fingers at the Afghans, was in and of itself almost proof positive that the U.S. military were the culprits.

In this context it bears remembering the times the U.S. attacked al-Jazeera offices from the air. George Bush was even going to bomb their headquarters in Doha, Qatar, until Tony Blair (British prime minister at the time and accomplice to Bush's invasion of Iraq) talked him out of it.

Oh, just thought I'd mention; bombing a hospital is a war crime. It's even prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, a treaty the U.S. is a signatory to. On the other hand, the U.S.' signature on a piece of paper is worth the same as a piece of paper- namely zilch. We see that constantly, for example in its violation of the anti-torture treaty it signed. And its conduct during its Indochina war. And its atrocites against civilians just about whenever it wages war. All that is so routine and unremarked upon that it is actually forgotten. Indeed, I saw no mention of the statutorily criminal nature of attacking a hospital in any establishment media reporting- not BBC, NY Times, Reuters, etc. They don't want people to know it's a war crime.

But what a nitpicking cavil that all is, eh?

But the NY Times should get credit for another article that describes what actually happened inside the hospital as the bombs rained down and burned people alive in their beds, the “human story” that is essential to get through to people and provoke the necessary emotional reaction. [3]

The story quotes the local head of MSF in that part of Afghanistan:

“Over the next hour, witnesses said, what unfolded was a relentless air assault that put patients, doctors and the Kunduz hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders at the center of a bull’s-eye, leaving no possibility of escape.

“The bombing began at 2:08 a.m. and continued until 3:15, Mr. Nagarathnam said. 'The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle around,' he added. 'There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. The main hospital building was engulfed in flames,' he said.”

Meanwhile, Obama Sheds Crocodile Tears

 The adept politician Barack Obama immediately made the obvious (and cynical) political move one would expect from a competent political boss. He issued a statement (didn't show his face) referring to “the tragic incident” and announced he would say nothing more pending the U.S. military's own verdict on what it did or didn't do: “we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy,” the statement emitted from the White House in his name read.

So the U.S. military, the probably perpetrators of the attack, will be investigating itself. I would venture to say, just as a general principle, that having the accused do the investigating of the allegations against themselves, is probably not the best way to arrive at the truth. Wouldn't you agree?

But self-investigating by guilty state parties is standard procedure in the U.S., whether its police murders of citizens, U.S. war crimes, or whatever. The only exceptions arise out of the competition for power between the Democratic Party faction of the political elite and the Republican Party one. So there you can get a partisan inquisition type investigation with a political motive, such as the Benghazi “investigations” by the Republicans in Congress.

That's not to say there are never useful genuine investigations here. But the results of those are generally put on a shelf to gather dust, such as the investigation into the Attica prison massacre ordered by then-New York State Governor and plutocrat Nelson Rockefeller (of the Rockefeller oil fortune) or the Kerner Commission report on racial unrest, or the report that rightly called the police repression around the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago a “police riot.” Those don't matter because they are ignored. By the time they come out, the issue is cold, at least in the establishment media's eyes.

Finally, here are accounts from MSF's website:

Twelve staff members and at least seven patients, including three children, were killed; 37 people were injured including 19 staff members. This attack constitutes a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law. [The death toll is now 22.]

The bombing took place despite the fact that MSF had provided the GPS coordinates of the trauma hospital to Coalition and Afghan military and civilian officials as recently as Tuesday 29 September, to avoid that the hospital be hit. As is routine practice for MSF in conflict areas, MSF had communicated the exact location of the hospital to all parties to the conflict.
From 2:08 AM until 3:15 AM local time today, MSF’s trauma hospital in Kunduz was hit by a series of aerial bombing raids at approximately 15 minute intervals. The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.
“The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle round,” said Heman Nagarathnam, MSF Head of Programmes in northern Afghanistan. “There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again. When I made it out from the office, the main hospital building was engulfed in flames. Those people that could had moved quickly to the building’s two bunkers to seek safety. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds.” [4]

In fact, MSF probably provides more health care for Afghans than their so-called government, or the foreign “nation builders.” Here's their brief description:

MSF is an international medical organisation and first worked in Afghanistan in 1980. MSF opened Kunduz Trauma Centre in August 2011 to provide high quality, free medical and surgical care to victims of trauma such as traffic accidents, as well as those with conflict related injuries from bomb blasts or gunshots. In Afghanistan, MSF supports the Ministry of Public Health in Ahmad Shah Baba hospital in eastern Kabul, Dasht-e-Barchi maternity in western Kabul and Boost hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. In Khost, in the east of the country, MSF runs a maternity hospital. MSF relies only on private funding for its work in Afghanistan and does not accept money from any government.
As for the tremendous harm the U.S. has done to the populace by attacking the hospital in Kunduz, MSF notes:

MSF’s hospital is the only facility of its kind in the north-eastern region of Afghanistan. For four years it has been providing free high level life- and limb-saving trauma care. In 2014, more than 22,000 patients received care at the hospital and more than 5,900 surgeries were performed.

So the U.S. just took out “the only facility” in an entire region of the country where critical trauma care can be had. (Perhaps they meant the only free facility- but knowing Afghanistan, probably not. Outside of Kabul, Afghanistan is a very primitive society in every respect.)

But if you're wondering what MSF's crime was, here it is, in their own statement:

“MSF treats all people according to their medical needs and does not make any distinctions based on a patient’s ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliation.”
Which of course is unacceptable to the U.S. Because in the immortal words of the former Emperor Bush: “Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists.” And being “with us” requires that you be hostile to all those the U.S. is hostile to.

If you know what's good for you.

That is the ethos of a gangster empire.

1] The New York Times published a map showing the location of the hospital and the locations of fighting that we were intended to be duped were “near” the hospital. Even though the Times omitted a scale of distance on the left hand map, you can see by counting the blocks that the skirmishes were quite far from the hospital. As the map makes clear, the Taliban were nowhere near the hospital. Judging by the block lines visible on the map on the left, it appears they were at least a half mile away.

 The New York Times|Source: Doctors Without Borders (Location of hospital); Satellite image by DigitalGlobe via Bing Maps

2] “Airstrike Hits Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan,New York Times website, October 3, 2015.

3] “Survivors Tell of Kunduz Hospital in Flames,New York Times website, October 3, 2015.

"Afghanistan: MSF demands explanations after deadly airstrikes hit hospital in Kunduz."

"Afghanistan: MSF staff killed and hospital partially destroyed in Kunduz,

Monday, September 28, 2015

U.S. Funnels More Weapons To Its Enemies

Gee, why does this keep happening? 

A new force of around 75 Syrian men trained by the U.S. to fight ISIS (and ONLY ISIS- they are barred from fighting the forces of the Assad regime, which is the priority for most Syrians) handed over "about a quarter" of their trucks and ammo to the Islamist al-Nusra Front, which is habitually "linked" in some unspecified way to the demon al-Qaeda. The newly-minted mini-army was apparently rushed into "battle" just days after the embarrassment of the Congressional testimony of General Lloyd Austin, who was forced to admit that the U.S. only had "4 or 5" combat-ready Syrians so far- having spent $42 million so far of a budgeted half a billion bucks on an effort that was claimed to be designed to create a force of 5,400 Syrian troops by year-end to fight the foe designated by the U.S., the Islamic State or ISIS. The idea apparently being to wipe some of the egg off the Obama regime's face.

The latest snafu involving the hapless surrogate force occurred when the fighters needed to pass through al-Nusra-controlled territory, and the gear was ceded as a sort of toll. At least that's what the Syrian surrogate fighters are saying.

At first the U.S. government vehemently denied that their mercenaries/puppets had handed over a chunk of their U.S.-supplied military gear to an enemy, but within hours were forced to admit it was true.
Let's see, how many times has this happened so far? It's happened repeatedly in Syria, although usually the military supplies have been taken by force.

It happened in Iraq, where ISIS seized large quantities of U.S. military equipment, including modern artillery and tanks, from the fleeing Iraqi "army."

And it happened of course in Afghanistan, and still happens, and not just since the invasion of 2001. Remember the glorious "defeat" of the Soviet Union in the 1980s there? Guess who got the arms the U.S.poured into the hands of jihadists then? Well, jihadists, and eventually the Taliban (and, yes, al-

I suppose the same thing happened when "South" Vietnam fell. The "South" Vietnamese armed forces had been lavished supplied by the U.S. The U.S. didn't get all that stuff back.
But it's great business for the U.S. military-industrial complex. It's a trillion dollar industry based on waste (and death and destruction).

Don't think about what a better world this would be if only half the trillions squandered were spent on positive works for humanity. You'll just get depressed. Or cry. Or both.

In Surprise Move, Obama Extradites Al-Jazeera Journalist To Egypt to Serve Prison Sentence

In a move that took political and legal observers by surprise, President Barack Obama today ordered the detention and extradition of al-Jazeera reporter Peter Greste to Egypt, where he was convicted and sentenced to three years for terrorism offenses and spreading “false news.”

The request to extradite Greste was made personally by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Mr. Obama on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting being attended by foreign leaders.
Aides to President Obama said that the President was repaying a favor from President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whose security forces detained and broke the arm of activist Medea Benjamin in a Cairo airport several years ago at Mr. Obama's request. President Obama was said to be angered by an incident in which Ms. Benjamin interrupted a speech by the President with shouted questions criticizing various policies of his administration.

A spokesperson for the Committee to Protect Journalists said the news was “stunning,” and seemed to be at odds with the President's regular invocations of the need to respect press freedom. Others, however, said that given the Administration's record of surveillance of members of the press and prosecutions of whistleblowers, the move could be viewed as a logical progression in the Administration's relations with the media, which at times have been characterized by a degree of friction.

Asked by a reporter why the U.S. was acceding to the Egyptian deportation request, President Obama responded, “You know, there's a saying, One Hand Washes The Other. Or as I learned in law school, You Scratch My Back And I'll Scratch Yours. Harboring fugitive criminals- That's Not Who We Are!TM And being ingrates isn't Who We AreTM either!”

Various press freedom and human rights organizations have been critical of the Egyptian prosecution of Mr. Greste and two other al-Jazeera journalists, both of whom were imprisoned but since pardoned, unlike Mr. Greste.

Mr. Greste, an Australian national who has already been taken into custody, could not be reached for comment.

An Australian official, asked for comment, stated that “Australia respects the laws of friendly nations, and advises Australian citizens abroad to observe the laws of the countries in which they are guests.”

Another Australian official, speaking anonymously, added, “Greste made a big stink about our offshore asylum detention centers, demanding we allow reporters in and 'end the secrecy.' Listen; If you kick us in the shins, don't come whining to us when you're in a jam and expect us to bail you out, Mate!”

Nah, that didn't really happen. It's a satire. But some of it is true. Greste really was convicted and sentenced, and currently faces arrest if he returns to Egypt. He could also be extradited from any African Union nation, all of which have extradition agreements with Egypt.

Australia really does bar reporters from the offshore detention camps. Greste really did call for an end to secrecy. And several Australian regimes have openly expressed their hostility and contempt towards their citizen Julian Assange, who is currently trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy in London and under secret indictment by the U.S. Oh, and when an Australian TV crew was murdered by the Indonesian army during their initial invasion of East Timor, the Australian government went along with the cover-up. So this little fantasy is hardly far-fetched.

And while Obama issued a pro forma call on Egypt about press freedoms, he says lots of things he doesn't mean. He gave a nice speech about climate change and how “we” had to do something about it, while in Alaska, on the occasion of granting Shell Oil drilling permits in the Arctic. (As I've mentioned before, Obama's deceits, double-crosses, and con games are a constant, and go back at least as far as his first presidential campaign in 2008, when he vowed to filibuster- filibuster- the telecom immunity bill that would bar anyone from suing AT&T, which illegally allowed the NSA to tape their trunk lines to steal every phone call and email passing through their system- and then he voted FOR the evil law.)

By the way, Obama really did have el-Sisi's goons break Medea Benjamin's arm. See “Obama Has Egyptian Military Regime Break American Peace Activist's Arm,” March 8, 2014, and “Medea Benjamin’s Arm “Wakes Me Up Every Single Night in Pain,” July 2, 2014. 

"Hey, what are friends for?"

Friday, September 25, 2015

John Boehner Resigns as Speaker For Life of U.S. House of Representatives

Oh wait, he wasn't "Speaker For Life." I must have gotten that misimpression from the way the bourgeois media blabberariat have been carrying on all day about it. You'd think it was actually a momentous event that signaled a political change. Which it does not.

Who gives a damn if one reactionary politician is replaced by another one? That's all that's happening here. All this garbage about "ultra-conservatives" (NPR's euphemism for extreme reactionaries) "pressuring" him is insignificant. There aren't enough of them to vote him out anyway.

This awful corrupt extremist, a lifelong enemy of women (he opposes their right to terminate pregnancies, insisting instead that the government should control their bodies), who spent 30 years in the House, can now get rich(er) and play golf.

Oh, and he's a crybaby too. All it takes is the sight of an American flag or a little girl holding a freshly-baked apple pie, and he turns on the waterworks. But he got a pass on that. If he'd been considered a leftist, you can bet there would have been an endless campaign of media ridicule about his crying. (Sure, it's fine for men to "show emotion." But don't cry unless there's something to cry about, you maudlin jerk!)

And just for the record, "Boehner" should be pronounced "boner." It's not "Baynor." Baynor is pronounced baynor.

 There there, Johnny-Boy, dry your tears.....Feel better now? (Ya Big Crybaby!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yogi Berra Is Dead. Endearing Baseball Figure A Factor In American Sentimentality Towards the Sport

Former New York Yankee catcher and manager Berra was 90. He was inducted into the baseball industry's “Hall of Fame.” He was also a part of ten so-called World Series Championships won by the team. (Only U.S. teams that are part of the cartel named Major League Baseball are actually allowed to compete for the series, so “World” is simply false.)

Who couldn't like Yogi Berra? A charming clown who was catnip for sportswriters, Berra, a former catcher and later manager in baseball, was given to utterances that amused by being blindingly obvious or displaying a fractured logic.

Let's revisit some of Berra's funny utterances that were made into memorable sayings by media repetition:

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” -Can't argue with that.

“If you come to a folk in the road, take it.” -Uhh, could you be more specific?

“We made too many wrong mistakes.” -And not enough right ones, apparently.

“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” -Well, math wasn't his strong point. Let's grant that.

“You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six.” -Okay, ratios are confusing to the math-challenged.

“I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.” -Like I said, weak on math. On basic arithmetic, come to think of it.

“We have deep depth.” -That's the best kind of depth, too.

“You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there.” -Kinda true, in a Mobius-strip-logic sort of way.

“Pair up in threes.” -He did have his own concept of math, remember.

“You wouldn't have won if we'd beaten you.” -Unarguably true.

“Even Napoleon had his Watergate.” -Indeed. Funny thing, that.

“I don't know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.” -He shoulda tooken* his own advice and just watched them to observe a lot. (*Yeah, I channeled a bit of Yogi's penchant for grammatical malapropism there.)

“Why buy good luggage, you only use it when you travel.” -I don't see anything wrong with that one, actually. If by “good” one means overpriced brand-name luggage.

“It's like déjà vu all over again.” -No list of Yogisms is complete without that masterpiece of redundancy. Or complete until it's finished. But what if the déjà vu you experienced was of a previous episode of déjà vu? A mental roomful of mirrors? It'd be like you're seeing yourself seeing yourself, if you get what I mean. You can't look in a mirror without a mirror.

And then there's the ever-useful- “It ain't over 'till it's over.” -Actually a good thing to remember in some situations.

But this next one makes me wonder if our oh-so-trustworthy establishment media might have made up a few of “Yogi's” utterances, or at least “perfected” them: 

I never said most of the things I said.” -Clearly he was grammatically challenged. Read that as “the things attributed to me,” and it makes perfect sense, of course. [ESPN has posted a video with a talking head insisting that Berra did so say the things he denied saying. Is this a case of the media protesting too much?]

Berra could almost seem like a wise fool. Another character whose existence as a media character, Casey Stengel, another media-concocted character, similarly came across as an offbeat player/baseball figure who was innately likable and charmingly idiosyncratic. [Stengel had some things to say about Berra, such as "He'd fall in a sewer and come up with a gold watch." Sounds like a comment that speaks volumes about Berra's favor with the Gods of social good fortune.]

These characters, real people who were also creations of the baseball business and collaborating sportswriters and broadcasters, helped create and perpetuate the sentimental feelings people have towards the game. Along with “baseball lore” and sports pieces “recalling” decades-old games and characters and “legends” (perhaps literally legend), all this has created a cloud of sentimentality around professional baseball, which attracts people, cements fan loyalty, and manufactures an ersatz community. Hence you see people wearing baseball caps on city streets to proclaim their local loyalty and give themselves a feeling of belonging, even though they actually exist in a state of alienation in an atomized urban environment. (I have been observing this first-hand for decades, just by watching. You can see a lot that way.) But all theyre really doing is consuming an entertainment product (while politicians pick our pockets to buy billion dollar stadiums for billionaire team owners).

And distracting yourself from the important business of politics and economics and the structure of the society you live in.

But hey, go ahead and kick back and watch a game. Nothing wrong with entertainment and leisure, in moderation. Promoting obsession with sports- that is, not with playing or genuinely participating, but with voyeuristic spectating- is the business of ESPN, “sports” radio yak shows, the sports sections of newspapers and sports mags like Sports Illustrated. There's a huge and profitable industry around sports in general, which also serves a political function of distraction and neutralization of a large part of the populace.

“A lot of guys go, 'Hey, Yog, say a Yogi-ism.' I tell 'em, 'I don't know any.' They want me to make one up. I don't make 'em up. I don't even know when I say it. They're the truth. And it is the truth. I don't know.”

So long, Yogi. You'll live on in our hearts forever. (That's not really true. We're all gonna be dead someday. Just like you. But you'll “live on” as long as there's a U.S. media and it chooses to flog “your memory”- actually their maudlin rehashings of the legend they created around you. Assuming there's a buck to be made.)

I checked three sites for quotes, and all had the same 50 ones, only in different orders. Which adds to evidence that “Yogi Berra” wasn't just an actual person, but a media concoction.

There isn't even consensus on how tall he was- a basic fact. A commentator who's “met him a million times” says he was 5'7”. Elsewhere his height is cited as 5'8”.

Keep in mind that much sports commentary and lore is literally legendary, plus U.S. media is generally unreliable.

The simplest list is at “Yogi Berra's 50 greatest quotes,” Detroit Free Press.

For the same quotes and career overview, there's “Yogi Berra quotes: ESPN.com celebrates the wit, wisdom of a baseball legend.”

The rightwing tabloid rag New York Daily News, owned by Canadian Jewish real estate billionaire and ardent Zionist propagandist Mortimer B. Zuckerman grouped the quotes by topic, and has a timeline of Berra's life and career. “Yogi Berra's most famous quotes: The wit and wisdom of the late Yankees legend.”

For the same (but fewer) quotes, with the addition of quotes by other ballplayers about Berra, see “Yogi Berra Quotes,” Baseball Almanac.

Obama's “ISIS Czar” Bails Out

With astute timing, retired four-star Marine Corps general John Allen, the man in charge of the U.S. effort to cobble together a united front against the Islamofascist “Islamic State,” which has conquered large swaths of Iraq and Syria, imposing its malign and extremely repressive rule on the remaining inhabitants in those areas (as well as practicing slavery and systematic rape of sex slaves, and destroying World Heritage Site archaeological treasures for good measure, and of course the standard beheadings and amputations for “UnIslamic” transgressions), is rushing out the door on the heels of embarrassing Senate testimony less than a week ago by General Lloyd Austin, head of Central Command, that the U.S. had only “4 or 5” trained Syrian fighters to pit against ISIS in Syria. [See previous essay, below, for that.] [1]

Allen will no doubt go on to a lucrative career “in the private sector,” as they say, peddling his connections and influence on behalf of corporations whose “business model” is feeding at the public trough.

Allen, the “Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL,” has been in the job only since September 2014. He plans to abandon the listing ship of Obama's anti-ISIS policy by the end of this year.

But I may be too unkind to Allen. Supposedly his wife's ill health (she has an unspecified auto-immune disease) is the reason he's stepping down. Which sounds suspect. Does she need around-the-clock care from him? Doubtful. But if true, it would probably be the first time in modern U.S. history that a man who spent his entire adult life clawing his way up the greasy pole of power really DID decide to throw it all away “to spend more time with my family” in the stock phrase that is used as a fig leaf when high-level apparatchiks get the ax or leave due to an unacknowledged internal conflict; verbiage that is symptomatic of the reality that our rulers aren't frank enough to explain honestly what they're doing and why.

I suspect Allen's frustration with Obama's indecisiveness and fecklessness in dealing with ISIS is a more likely reason he's leaving after barely more than a year. That, and his reluctance to be associated with a dismal failure of a policy and strategy, a failure and ineptitude thrown into stark relief by Austin's stunning testimony a few days ago.

After a year of half-assed, indecisive U.S. involvement in the resistance to ISIS, the “Islamic State” “caliphate” is more stubbornly entrenched than ever, periodically braying about its latest atrocity or assault on civilization. (It's big on dynamiting UN World Heritage Sites, the physical remnants and evident of humankind's past experience, a barbaric assault on memory, an attempt to lobotomize our species.)

Allen published an op-ed back in August 2014, stating that the Islamic state is a “clear and present danger to the U.S.” that “must be destroyed,” and only U.S. power was equal to the task. Yet, with ISIS more entrenched than ever, Allen is precipitously abandoning the fight against this “clear and present danger to the U.S.” which “must be destroyed,” after barely a year. The month after Allen's urgent essay appeared, Obama tapped him in September 2014 to “lead” the anti-ISIS effort. Given what has transpired since, we must suspect that Obama hired him precisely to co-opt a critical voice agitating for a forceful U.S. effort. Better to have him inside the tent pissing out that outside the tent pissing in, as a cynical political saying goes. [2]

On the other hand, Allen in his piece argued for precisely what seemed to be Obama's policy, the cobbling together of a coalition of nations and groups (same as Secretary of State John “Skull and Bones” Kerry's ballyhooed Mighty Coalition of 22 nations and groups, that so far seems to have not much more substance than the ghostly divisions Hitler spent the last few weeks of his life pushing around on a map in his bunker deep under the Chancellery in Berlin) and “boots on the ground” to consist of Kurds, Syrians, Iraqis, and whomever.

Maybe it just wasn't done “muscularly” enough. Certainly the initial indifference of Kerry and Obama to the fate of Kobani, in Syria on the Turkish border, where the Kurds (whom the U.S. allegedly backs) was deemed of no importance, until it suddenly dawned on Obama and his power clique that it would generate negative publicity if Kobani fell to the Islamofascists, and then abruptly reversed themselves and launched U.S. airstrikes, enabling the Kurds to fight off the jihadi psychopaths.

As far as the “coalition,” those 22 whatever, Kerry might just as well have said to ISIS “We're going to HUFF and PUFF and BLOW YOUR CALIPHATE DOWN!”

Turkey, very belatedly, announced it would bomb ISIS- but that was just a cover to restart a war with the Kurds. Nice. (More on that in my essay Erdogan's Kristallknacht. Just scroll down until you get to it.)

Here are some excerpts from Allen's jeremiad against ISIS. He starts by painting it as a global threat (which is a stretch), and says the ISIS execution of putative American journalist James Foley-

"will snap American attention with laser-like focus onto the real danger IS poses to the existence of Iraq, the order of the region and to the homelands of Europe and America." [WOW! A threat to the white homelands!]

Sounds serious, right? He continues:

"President Barack Obama, our commander-in-chief [sic: Allen was retired from the military at the time and perched in a sinecure at the Brookings Institution, that hive of bourgeois policy plotting], was right to order airstrikes on IS elements in northern Iraq. He was also right to order humanitarian relief for the Yazidis and other desperate Iraqi minority elements fleeing the onslaught of IS elements, but until the grisly death of James Foley much of the American public was only beginning to awaken to what IS is and the enormity of the threat it represents."

So in the third paragraph he's praising “our commander-in-chief,” Obama, a theme he returns to at the end. Was he apple-polishing to get a job? That could have been one motive, but not the sole one. (It paid off as the following month Obama elevated him to “ISIS Czar,” in the headline description of his role.)

Another excerpt:

"The U.S. is now firmly in the game and remains the only nation on the planet capable of exerting the kind of strategic leadership, influence and strike capacity to deal with IS. It is also the only power capable of organizing a coalition’s reaction to this regional and international threat. As a general officer commanding at several levels in the region, I can say with certainty that what we’re facing in northern Iraq is only partly a crisis about Iraq. It is about the region and potentially the world as we know it." [You're “certain” of that, huh? The whole world...]

And just what happened with that coalition organizing? Secretary of State John “Skull and Bones” Kerry announced with great fanfare a mighty alliance of “22 nations and organizations” he cobbled together to annihilate a band of what was then a few thousand armed terrorists who had just put the entire Iraqi army to flight, capturing their heavy weapons in the process.

Allen ended the piece with more apple-polishing directed towards Obama (man, was that guy lobbying for a job or what?), and a table-pounding sounding of the alarm over IS:

"Bottom line: The president deserves great credit in attacking IS. It was the gravest of decisions for him. But a comprehensive American and international response now —NOW— is vital to the destruction of this threat. The execution of [American] James Foley is an act we should not forgive nor should we forget, it embodies and brings home to us all what this group represents. The Islamic State is an entity beyond the pale of humanity and it must be eradicated. If we delay now, we will pay later."

So why quit so soon if the problem is so urgent and critical and with potentially earth-shaking dire consequences? Just because your wife is unwell? Hire a home care aide. You can afford it.

But I agree with Allen's next-to-last sentence there. Of course, lots of other people do similar or identical things. The Saudi Arabians, for example, with their hundreds of beheadings a year, and amputations. And the U.S. has done and does horrid things, including the extermination of tens of millions of people during its history. Nevertheless, wiping out ISIS would be a good thing, and help a lot of their current and potential victims. It would be a positive use of U.S. power (a rare occurrence in itself).

1]Obama's Islamic State War Czar Stepping Down,” Bloomberg View, September 22, 2015, and “Report: Obama 'ISIS Czar' Stepping Down,Military Times, September 22, 2015.

2]Gen.Allen: Destroy the Islamic State Now,” Defense One, August 20, 2014. Note that this was published prior to Obama choosing Allen. So Obama knew what he was getting with Allen.

 Obama and Fearless Warrior, Shoulder To Shoulder. That was then. This is now.

Those ISIS punks don't scare me! (But I sure don't want to be connected to failure!
Time to pull the ripcord on my golden parachute!)
[Unfair caption, maybe? Time will tell. But too amusing for me to resist.
Note to the observant: the photo predates Allen getting his fourth star.]

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

U.S. Deploys Mighty Army of “4 or 5” Soldiers to “Degrade” Islamic State aka ISIS

Yes, literally 4 or 5 men. Not 4 or 5 divisions, or brigades, or regiments, or battalions. Not even 4 or 5 companies or platoons or squads. Four or five individual fighters.

This is according to the Congressional testimony on September 16th of the ultimate commander of those “4 or 5” men, U.S. Army General Lloyd Austin, head of the so-called “Central Command,” the U.S. military command that enforces U.S. domination (or attempts to) over a large geographical area centered around the Arabian Peninsula oil sheikdoms and including Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and as far north as Kazakhstan. [See official Pentagon map below.] [1]

"It's a small number," Austin trenchantly observed. Ah, finally! A statement by a U.S. officer that is indisputably true, for a change.

Austin was testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose members were vocally underwhelmed by the report. [2]

But take heart! Defense” Undersecretary for Policy Christine Wormuth informed the Senators that as many as 100 trainees might be ready hurl themselves against IS by the end of the year. (Or maybe not.)

The U.S. demands that its Syrian recruits refrain from fighting the forces of the tyrant Bashar al-Assad, and instead aim their guns only at the U.S.' current enemy, Islamic State. (The U.S. government insists on referring to IS by an older name, ISIL. [3]) This absurd insistence, coupled with U.S. paranoia about weeding out “extremists,” has made the process of creating this phantom army slow-going.

It bears remembering that on July 31th, the first group of 54 U.S.-puppet anti-IS fighters were destroyed in Syria by the Al-Nusra front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate. (Gee, that wasn't supposed to happen!)

Price so far: $42 million. A half a billion bucks is budgeted for this quixotic public relations stunt.

But wait! In a funny coincidence, just five days after Central Commander Austin's poorly-received Senate testimony, Central Command issued a press release on September 21th trumpeting the addition of 70 “graduates” of the training program to the fight. (You gotta wonder how well they've been trained!) [4]

Recall that earlier this year Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama announced his plans to “degrade” ISIL, and plans were announced to create a Syrian puppet force of 5,400 fighters for this purpose. (The U.S. president is designated by the U.S. Constitution the commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.) Now we have to try and puzzle out whether Obama meant it, and failed, or was that just another of his patented con jobs where he deceives people. (He did this type of thing even before becoming president, even as he was running in 2008, when as a U.S. Senator he vowed to filibuster a bill that would grant immunity from lawsuits to AT&T- and all phone companies- for illegally permitting warrantless NSA surveillance using their facilities. Well, not only did he NOT filibuster the bill, he voted FOR it. There are many more examples since.)

With Obama, he always tries to hide what he's actually doing, while saying the opposite. He's done it with prison “reform,” where he recently launched a propaganda campaign in which he bloviates about how “we” lock up too many people (while he refuses to order the prosecutors he controls to stop pushing for draconian sentences, stop persecuting medical marijuana stores, and has used his presidential pardon and commutation authority to free fewer than 100 prisoners- vs. the 1,000 plus the “autocratic” Putin has freed). At the exact same time he gives Shell Oil the go-ahead to drill in the Arctic, he gives a speech about climate change! The man is completely shameless.

So with such a cynical con man, it can be tricky figuring out if he really intended to do something (did he really intend to close the military prison and torture center at Guantanamo Bay?) and failed, or was it all a sham from the get-go?

Obama certainly had political reasons to pretend to fight ISIS. Since Republicans apparently want a U.S. invasion (but they coyly and cynically don't say so overtly) a “plan” to field a 5,400 man army of Syrian mercenaries was a way to deflect political heat off himself. We may never know the truth, but probably someday enough inside info to come out to correctly analyze it.

1] The Wikipedia entry on the U.S. Central Command has basic facts about its creation, history, commanders, alleged purposes, and so on. It's evident from the list of commanders (a veritable Rogues' Gallery of infamous mass killers) that the post is a stepping-stone to higher positions. A number went on to positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Chairman, and one, the much-feted David Petraeus, became a CIA Director.

2] See for example “You Can Literally Count the Number of U.S.-Trained Syrians Fighting ISIS on One Hand: Lawmakers slammed the U.S. plan to defeat the Islamic State group in a heated Capitol Hill hearing,U.S. News & World Report, September 16, 2015.

3] “Islamic State” is the name of a self-declared “caliphate,” a horrible, barbaric, primitive state that is supposed to represent perfection, created by the terrorist cult that formerly went by the names Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or of ash-Sham (ISIS) and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It is a mutation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, itself a mutation of the original Al-Qaeda. Through each mutation of these Islamofascist spawns of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the trap the U.S. set for the U.S.S.R. in Afghanistan beginning in 1979, the resulting group has become more vicious, barbaric, and intolerant. Its Salafist ideology comes from the Saudi-promoted Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam.

4] Sept.21: Additional new Syrian forces deployed to Syria, U.S. Central Command, September 21, 2015 RELEASE #20150902 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” The propaganda bulletin starts with a ludicrous boast, and is written in the manner of all official U.S. military propaganda, namely relentlessly upbeat, which oftentimes reads as satire worthy of Joseph Heller's classic novel Catch-22.

Here's what it says:

TAMPA, Fla.– [Yes, that's where their HQ is] Approximately 70 graduates of the Counter-ISIL Coalition's Syria Train and Equip program have successfully re-entered Syria complete with their weapons and equipment and are currently operating as New Syrian Forces.

With support from the Coalition, the NSF will fight alongside vetted opposition forces and employ their training and equipment acquired through the T&E program to enhance the efforts of these larger units already in the fight against ISIL.

The contributions of the NSF will be additive to those already being made in Syria by tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and other anti-ISIL forces, who have re-secured more than 17,000 sq. km. of territory previously held by ISIL, along with critical border crossing points between Syria and Turkey. While the NSF do not operate under the command and control of the Coalition, we will continue to support and enable them as part of the ongoing campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.

As the U.S. has consistently stiffed the Kurds, that bit about the “contribution” of the Syrian Kurds etc. is particularly galling. I hope the Kurds don't read it. It would be a bitter pill indeed. And it's really a bad joke to call 70 fighters an “additive contribution.” It's virtually useless. What's going on here is others are doing the fighting and dying, while the U.S. conducts half-assed airstrikes and talks about fielding a mythical force of “moderate Syrians” who are barred from fighting the dictator that the Syrian people rose up against in the first place.

U.S. Central Command map of “CENTCOM Area of Responsibility” 
(for imposing U.S. Imperialist “interests”).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ben Carson's "Me-Too-ism!" Islamophobia

Exemplary role-model-black Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon with reactionary politics who thinks he'd make a good president and is running for the GOP (Gang Of Plunderers) nomination for president, has wasted no time in tailing after Donald Trump's rank demagogic demonization of Muslims. Three days after Trump egged on a demented Muslim-hater at a rally in New Hampshire, the hitherto obscure Carson (as with so many reactionaries, the corporate media is working diligently to build up his public profile) was invited onto one of the Sunday morning political propaganda shows (NBC's Meet the Press) and delivered unto us his mild-mannered version of Muslim-bashing. He opined that no Muslim should be president because Islam is "incompatible with the Constitution." He didn't bother to explain why Islam (and not, say, Christianity, or Hinduism, or Buddhism) is "incompatible." The NBC propagandist hack doing a burlesque of a journalist, Chuck Todd, saw no reason to ask the rather obvious question, "How is it incompatible?" Off the top of my head, I can't think of a reason.

[Other obscure reactionaries the U.S. media has built up and made (in)famous include the crackpot sleazeball Dinesh D'Souza, a convicted criminal; fascist harridan and vicious provocateur Ann Coulter; and bizarre far-rightwing crazed former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, one of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who was singled out for constant television appearances.]

Let us now compare the anti-Muslim invective of the Trump event to the "kinder and gentler" Carson echo of that Islamophobia.

Here's a transcript from the audio of the New Hampshire "town hall" meeting September 17th. (Emphases are speakers.')

Trump: "And we're gonna have some fun now because instead of making the speech which I've been doing over and over and over" [he's going to take questions instead.]

Trump: “Okay this man I like this guy,” pointing to the very first questioner.

Deranged Islamophobe: “[Inaudible] from White Plains. Amen. Okay. We have a problem in this country, it's called Muslims. We know our, current [he spits the word "current" with contempt] president is one. You know he’s not even an American.”

Trump: “We need this question.”

Deranged Islamophobe: “Birth certificate [inaudible]. But anyway, we have training camps, growing, where they want to kill us."
Trump: "Hmm-hmm."

Deranged Islamophobe: "That’s my question: When can we get rid of them.” [Like Hitler "got rid of" "the Jews"? Deportation and...?]

Trump: "We're gonna be looking at a lot of different things. And you know a lot of people are saying that and a lot of people are saying, that bad things are happening out there we're gonna be looking at that and plenty of other things."

Notice Trump's vague threat at the end. Plenty of  WHAT "things"?  [Audio clip here.]

When I did an Internet search for the details of the incident at the "town hall" meeting with the racist reactionary xenophobe and Trump, many headlines on numerous major corporate media stories were exactly the same, the anodyne "Trump declines to correct man who says Obama is Muslim."

Well, that's certainly putting it mildly. He also "declined to correct" the man that Obama IS American, and that "Muslims" do NOT have terrorist training camps in the U.S. from which they are preparing to "kill us." Those characterizations of the "encounter," an encounter in which Trump didn't merely passively "decline to correct" the man, but enthusiastically egged him on ("I like this guy," "we need this," etc.) and then acted as if he agreed and promised to do something (unspecified as usual with Trump) about the deadly Muslims (all of them want to kill us according to the deranged hater, who said "Muslims" are the "problem" "we" have in America)- those media characterizations are so watered down and so minimize the violent derangement of the man (who obviously is a public menace and may well bomb or shoot Muslims or Sikhs- his ilk can't tell the difference and in fact have killed some American Sikhs already- and may well have already vandalized "Muslim" targets) that they verge on a cover-up.

Trump is a dangerous demagogue who incites and encourages violently delusional emotions among the xenophobes, racists, anti-Muslim bigots, white supremacists (who have been endorsing them on their websites) and American fascists. Whose numbers are constantly inflated by the corporate media, that always tries to give the impression that the majority of Americans are "conservative" (meaning reactionary). This is a manipulative play on people's naturally conformist tendencies in order to drive the public ever farther to the right. People are told year after year how everyone else is "conservative," and they unconsciously conform their own attitudes to what the propaganda is telling them. This is how the corporate media has eliminated abortion in 90% of U.S. counties, and why the abortion-haters are on the verge of driving a stake into the heart of legal abortion in most of the U.S. (Of course, abortion itself will never be eliminated. It will just revert to the butchery of illegal abortion.)

U.S. corporate media constantly inflate the size and influence of the reactionary grass roots. For example, Trump is polling at about 29% support among Republican voters. Now Republicans are about 20% of U.S. registered voters. So Trump is backed by less than a third of 20%- around SIX percent of the voters. But the impression the media gives is that there's a huge groundswell behind Trump.

It just ain't so.

But he can still win GOP primaries, of course, and/or amass enough delegates to either get the GOP nomination or exact a steep price from the party. (He's a fantastic dealmaker, you know. He even says so himself! In fact, he wrote a book, The Art of the Deal, in order to boast about- I mean, to share his secrets of dealmaking with you.)

While inflating their numbers, major media has also always minimized the deranged, delusional, dangerous, and violent mindset of these indigenous fascists in order to legitimize them.  Instead of marginalizing, or even criticizing rightwing and racist fanatics, (much less demonizing, as they do with leftists, black militants, "terrorists," "communists," "criminals," "welfare cheats," "drug pushers," "sex offenders," or whatever group- homosexuals used to be one of the groups targeted for hatred-incitement), the corporate propaganda system treats them as a respectable part of the political spectrum, whose deranged ideas are legitimate.

This is part of the long-term policy of that media in pushing the U.S. and public opinion to the right.

And as part of filtering out anyone with progressive impulses from attaining the presidency, "the" media has decreed that the first hurdle- barrier, actually- to anyone being a "serious" candidate for president is to win or do well in two very small, virtually all-white, reactionary and unrepresentative states, Iowa and New Hampshire. FIRST you must pass muster with a bunch of white reactionaries to be a "credible" candidate.

I have long been frustrated that this very obvious fact is ignored by those who should be loudly denouncing it- namely alleged progressives and leftists. That's true of The Nation magazine, which marks the left side boundary of the establishment political spectrum and acts as a get-out-the-vote auxiliary for the Democratic Party. (They really made that obvious by their hysterical attacks on Ralph Nader for daring to run for president. The Nation's plan for political change is to preserve the two-party corporate dictatorship in perpetuity and always force us into the Hobbesian choice of voting for the allegedly "lesser" evil- which has brought us to where we are today, a total police state which has written into law the "right" to imprison  its citizens indefinitely in military detention with charges or trial, signed by the Great Redeemer Barack Obama.) It is true of the "alternative" media. There should be a hammering away every four years on this scam. Instead the sheep are left undisturbed in their slumber.

The idea that two tiny, white, reactionary states have near-veto power over who can run for president should be loudly mocked at every opportunity. But maybe some people who pretend to want "change" really don't want to shake up or even challenge the system. I suggest they stop faking it then. Defrauding the public is unethical.

“Don't worry, this Islamophobia I'm injecting into the body politic won't hurt a bit.”

Why, if you closed your eyes, you'd think you were listening to a white racist! Fancy that!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sudden End To Tony Abbott's Awful Australian Premiership

Australia is getting its fourth prime minister in two years Former “Communications” minister Malcolm Trumbull pulled off a intraparty coup, defeating Abbott in a party vote, (Boy, watch out with all those prime ministers, Australia, or you'll end up looking like Italy!) The vote, by “Liberal” Party members of the Australian parliament, went 54-44 against Abbott. (Australian prime ministers are the heads of their parties, not elected by the public.) The “Liberal” Party is a right-wing party.

Turnbull is a former “investment banker” (financial parasite) and lawyer. His not-entirely-flattering nickname is "The Silvertail," an Australian epithet for wealth and privilege. Both Abbott and Turnbull are former Rhodes “scholars,” which is supposed to prove to us they're smart.

Abbott was prone to making outrageous statements, which members of his party worried was hurting the party's standing with the public. He is also a sexist dog, which he either couldn't or wouldn't hide, instead displaying his patriarchal male-domination attitudes publicly. (He is a former Roman Catholic seminarian, which helps explain that. The RC Church is a male-supremacist, authoritarian institution.)

His policy “achievements” included abolishing a newly-established carbon tax in response to global warming, and replacing it with billions of dollars in bribes to polluters to voluntarily reduce emissions- with no penalties. Australia burns coal for energy like there's no tomorrow- which there won't be for many species and a lot of people, as we travel down the road of a planet made hotter by the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

He also appealed to racist xenophobes by violating international law by his interception of refugees at sea and imprisoning them on a Papuan island, in miserable conditions and sweltering heat, which Papua New Guinea proved willing to do for pay.

Typically of Australian prime ministers, Abbott was an eager lackey of U.S. imperialism. For example, he gleefully insulted Russian premier Vladimir Putin at “summit” meetings of “world leaders” (country bosses) in retaliation for Russia defending its interests in Ukraine. (One example: in October 2014 Abbott threatened to “shirtfront” Putin at an upcoming “summit.” A “shirtfront” is an Australian football move consisting of a shoulder charge into an opponent's chest. Russian officials retorted that Putin is a judo expert. Unfortunately no cage-match between the foes was scheduled, so we're left to speculate, as in fantasy sports, who would win. Maybe someone can make a computer game out of it. There could be other grudge-matches too: Obama vs. Netanyahu, Merkel vs. Tsipras, Maduro vs. Santos- could be exciting! Political junkies who play video games would love it.)

Australia, like Britain, the nation that spawned it, is a loyal toady and accomplice to the U.S., sending troops to U.S. wars in Korean, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It is one of the “five eyes” NSA-led global spying and privacy destruction network (comprising electronic spying agencies of the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and hosts major electronic interception hives. Australia also was treated to a CIA coup in 1975 to get rid of a “leftist” who was seen as a threat to all the spying. [1]

For a taste of Abbott's asinine and destructive demagogy, see Five Teenagers Vs. 200 Australian Cops; also Tough-On-Terrorism Tony Abbott Unleashes 800 Australian Police to Arrest Man With Sword. For analyses of his prancings on the “world stage” in support of his U.S. and UK masters' “interests,” see America, the Ingrate Nation, and the obliquely-derogatorily titled Tony Abbott Is An Insufferable Jackass. (Did you catch what I was hinting at there?)

Tony didn't see that knife aimed at his back by his own
former propaganda minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Well, Fuck You too, Tony!

The silver lining: Now Tony will have more free time to
provide people the opportunity to admire his gorgeous body!

1] The Australian PM at the time, Gough Whitlam, had the crazy idea that he was the top authority figure in the country with the power and the right to run it. The Australian, British, and above all U.S. secret police agencies soon proved him wrong- in fact very badly mistaken.

Whitlam refused to allow his personnel to be vetted (thus approved or vetoed by) one of the Australian secret police agencies, the Australian “Security” “Intelligence” Organization (ASIO).

Worse, Whitlam thought he had a right to know what operations the CIA and NSA were running from Australian soil, including the NSA spy center at Pine Gap. This proved intolerable to the fascist secret policemen of the U.S., UK, and Australia, who prompted arranged Whitlam's overthrow. (Read the sourced articles referenced below for the details.) Among the culprits was CIA boss William Colby (who oversaw the murder of around 50,000 Vietnamese when he headed the Phoenix Program), the sinister and vicious CIA criminal Theodore Shackley (who helped engineer the Chilean coup of 1973), MI6 head “Sir” Maurice Oldfield (I don't recognize aristocracy), and U.S. ambassador to Australia Marshall Green, whose qualifications for the job was his role in the 1965 Indonesian coup that overthrew Sukarno, installed the fascist general Suharto, and was followed by the CIA-orchestrated murder of about a million Indonesians- making Green an accomplice in mass murder on a Nazi or Maoist or Stalinist scale. And various Australian reactionaries within that country's power structure were co-conspirators. (MI6 even bugged Australian government cabinet meetings at U.S. behest.)

Victor Marchetti, a CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, said "This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House... a kind of Chile [i.e. coup] was set in motion." Gerald Ford was president at the time, but it would have made no difference who the president was. All U.S. presidents are compulsive imperialists and give the so-called “intelligence community,” the powerful state-within-the-U.S.-state, nearly free rein. Witness Obama, a virtual servant of the NSA, CIA, and FBI. (Or JFK, a guy who jerked on the CIA's leash and paid with his life.)

CIA officer Frank Snepp, who was stationed in Saigon, has revealed that the line laid down inside the CIA was that “the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.”

And Christopher Boyce said that "Whitlam was viewed as an Australian Ho Chi Minh," Boyce worked as an “intelligence” contractor, and was privy to the CIA's infiltration and subversion of Australian politics and society. This so outraged him that he turned against the U.S. by selling “secrets” to the Soviet Union, for which he was publicly demonized as a “traitor” and “spy” and imprisoned for 25 years. A trashy, sensationalized allegedly “non-fiction” book, The Falcon and the Snowman, and the rest of the anti-Boyce propaganda produced, omitted his true motive. (At times the U.S. functions exactly like a totalitarian society.)

The governor-general of Australia, “Sir” John Kerr, a long-time CIA operative, invoking the authority of the Queen of England (!), “fired” Whitlam, who accepted this, instead of telling Kerr “the 'Queen' of England doesn't rule Australia. Australia is a democracy, and I was elected- unlike you, who represent a foreign power [and are an agent of a foreign secret police agency]. Shove off.” I guess then the CIA would have had to arrange his assassination, or a military takeover, branding Whitlam's continuance in office “illegal.”

As the Australian coup demonstrates, the fascists of the Deep States in the so-called “Western democracies” actually run things (as they also proved on Nov. 22, 1963 and Sept. 11, 2001, for example).

See “The CIA's Role In Australia's Coup: RIP Gough Whitlam,” dailykos, Oct. 21, 2014; “When the US Pulled off a Coup in Australia,” Alternet, March 17, 2014; “The British-American coup that ended Australian independence,” Guardian, 23 Oct., 2014; “Boyce still believes CIA dismissed Whitlam,” The Australian, Feb. 18, 2014. (To get past the Australian's paywall, you have to go through the Google search results I linked to.)

Much better and more detailed than the short Australian piece is an Australian television interview with Boyce on SBS, The Falcon Lands, with video and transcript, 18 Feb., 2014. It's an interesting interview and I recommend it. One interesting insight is that the Australian labor unions were (are?) controlled by the CIA, and the head labor “leader,” Bob Hawke, piped up to deny CIA infiltration of the unions, then became prime minister (probably with CIA help). Australia is one of those nations that is sold down the river to the U.S. by indigenous stooges of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. works assiduously to put its foreign lackeys into positions of power in other nations. Boyce describes the studied disinterest of the Australian elite in news of CIA control of their society, which would indicate that U.S. puppets ruled the roost- and still do, judging from the behavior of the just-deposed Abbott. Don't expect Turnbull to be different. People who rise to his level know to play ball with the U.S.- or end up like Whitlam.