They Hate Us For Our Freedoms

Hit a bit of a rough patch a couple weeks ago. Woke up with major bloating that has made it hard to eat, and I’m really energy drained. Might be candida, might just be cleansing in process. Doesn’t feel cancer related, but it’s definitely been a hard time. Yesterday I started to feel a shift, so hopefully getting back on track and getting my energy back soon.

Glen Greenwald ~ Salon

The quaint and obsolete Nuremberg principles

His invasion of Iraq caused the deaths of at least 100,000 (and almost certainly more) innocent Iraqis: vastly more than bin Laden could have dreamed of causing. It left millions of people internally and externally displaced for years. It destroyed a nation of 26 million people. It was without question an illegal war of aggression: what the lead prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials — as Ferencz just reminded us — called the “the central crime in this pattern of crimes, the kingpin which holds them all together.” And that’s to say nothing of the worldwide regime of torture, disappearances, and black sites created by the U.S during the Bush years.

Yet the very same country — and often the very same people — collectively insisting upon the imperative of punishing civilian deaths (in the bin Laden case) has banded together to shield George Bush from any accountability of any kind. Both political parties — and the current President — have invented entirely new Orwellian slogans of pure lawlessness to justify this protection (Look Forward, Not Backward): one that selectively operates to protect only high-level U.S. war criminals but not those who expose their crimes. Worse, many of Bush’s most egregious crimes — including the false pretenses that led to this unfathomably lethal aggressive war and the widespread abuse of prisoners that accompanied it — were well known to the country when it re-elected him in 2004.

Glenn Greenwald | Salon

A New Age of “Enlightened” War

Our wars are eerily like those pursued by European monarchs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: conflicts carried out by professional militaries and bands of mercenaries, largely at the whim of what we might now call a unitary executive, funded by deficit spending, for the purposes of protecting or extending the interests of a ruling elite.

Cynics might say it has always been thus in the United States. After all, the War of 1812 was known to critics as “Mr. Madison’s War” and the Mexican-American War of the 1840s was “Mr. Polk’s War.” The Spanish-American War of 1898 was a naked war of expansion vigorously denounced by American anti-imperialists. Yet in those conflicts there was at least genuine national debate, as well as formal declarations of war by Congress.

Today’s ruling class in Washington no longer bothers to make a pretense of following the letter of our Constitution — and they sidestep its spirit as well, invoking hollow claims of executive privilege or higher callings of humanitarian service (as in Libya) or of exporting democracy (as in Afghanistan). But Libya is still torn by civil war, and Afghanistan has yet to morph into Oregon.

William Astore |

Really Defeating bin Laden

We did exactly what bin Laden said he wanted us to do: Give up our freedoms (like the freedom to be assumed innocent until proven guilty), engage our military in Muslim countries so that we will be hated by Muslims, and wipe ourselves out financially in doing so. Done, done and done, Osama. You had our number. You somehow knew we would eagerly give up our constitutional rights and become more like the authoritarian state you dreamed of. You knew we would exhaust our military and willingly go into more debt in eight years than we had accumulated in the previous 200 years combined.

Maybe you knew us so well because you were once one of our mercenaries, funded and armed by us via our friends in Pakistan to fight the other Evil Empire in the last battle of the Cold War. Only, when the killing stopped, the trained killer, our “Frankenstein,” couldn’t. The monster, you, would soon turn on us.

If we really want to send bin Laden not just to his death, but also to his defeat, may I suggest that we reverse all of that right now. End the wars, bring the troops home, make the rich pay for this mess, and restore our privacy and due process rights that used to distinguish us from any other country.

Michael Moore |

Single Payer Health: It’s Only Fair

It is certainly a step forward that the new health reform law is projected to cover 32 million additional Americans, out of the more than 50 million uninsured today. Yet projections suggest that roughly 23 million will still be without insurance in 2019, while healthcare costs will continue to skyrocket.

Twenty-three million Americans still without health insurance after health reform is implemented? This is unacceptable. And that is why, this week, Representative Jim McDermott and I are announcing the re-introduction of the American Health Security Act, recognising healthcare as a human right and providing every US citizen and permanent resident with healthcare coverage and services through a state-administered, single payer program.

Let’s face it: until we put patients over profits, our system will not work for ordinary Americans.

Bernie Sanders |

A Crisis from the Top: The Unwisdom of Elites

The past three years have been a disaster for most Western economies. The United States has mass long-term unemployment for the first time since the 1930s. Meanwhile, Europe’s single currency is coming apart at the seams. How did it all go so wrong?

Well, what I’ve been hearing with growing frequency from members of the policy elite — self-appointed wise men, officials, and pundits in good standing — is the claim that it’s mostly the public’s fault. The idea is that we got into this mess because voters wanted something for nothing, and weak-minded politicians catered to the electorate’s foolishness.

So this seems like a good time to point out that this blame-the-public view isn’t just self-serving, it’s dead wrong.

The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.

Paul Krugman |

U.S. tries to assassinate U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki

Yesterday, riding a wave of adulation and military-reverence, the Obama administration tried to end the life of this American citizen — never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime — with a drone strike in Yemen, but missed and killed two other people instead:

A missile strike from an American military drone in a remote region of Yemen on Thursday was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric believed to be hiding in the country, American officials said Friday.

The attack does not appear to have killed Mr. Awlaki, the officials said, but may have killed operatives of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

The other people killed “may have” been Al Qaeda operatives. Or they “may not have” been. Who cares? They’re mere collateral damage on the glorious road to ending the life of this American citizen without due process.

Glenn Greenwald | Salon

Thanks to Decades of Conservative Spin, Americans Are Hopelessly Confused About Taxes, Spending and the Deficit

The right’s victory in separating taxes from the services they pay for is apparent when citizens are asked what they’d like to see cut in order to cut that deficit. In January, Gallup released a poll on those specifics. They asked which of nine areas of government services they’d like to see cut. Only cutting foreign aid – which represents about two percent of the federal budget – met with the approval of a majority of those surveyed. Even majorities of Republicans opposed cuts to everything but foreign aid and arts funding.

Taken together, this shows how difficult it is for law-makers to arrive at good public policies. Their constituents wants their cake, they want to eat it, but they don’t think they need to pay the tab for it. Politicos offer tax cuts to get themselves elected, but then face outraged constituents when they try to cut services. Small wonder that we’ve only managed to balance the budget in one brief period during the boom years of the 1990s.

We do face serious issues in this country. We need a serious debate about how best to solve them. But we’re having that debate in a democracy populated by citizens who have little or no clue where their tax dollars go. And you can credit the anti-tax crusaders and their habitual mendacity for that sorry state of affairs.

Joshua Holland | AlterNet

Osama bin Laden’s American Legacy

It was our misfortune and Osama bin Laden’s good luck that Washington’s dreams were not those of a global policeman intent on bringing a criminal operation to justice, but of an imperial power whose leaders wanted to lock the oil heartlands of the planet into a Pax Americana for decades to come. So if you’re writing bin Laden’s obituary right now, describe him as a wizard who used the 9/11 attacks to magnify his meager powers many times over.

After all, while he only had the ability to launch major operations every couple of years, Washington — with almost unlimited amounts of money, weapons, and troops at its command — was capable of launching operations every day. In a sense, after 9/11, Bin Laden commanded Washington by taking possession of its deepest fears and desires, the way a bot takes over a computer, and turning them to his own ends.

It was he, thanks to 9/11, who insured that the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan would be put into motion. It was he, thanks to 9/11, who also insured that the invasion and occupation of Iraq would be launched. It was he, thanks to 9/11, who brought America’s Afghan war to Pakistan, and American aircraft, bombs, and missiles to Somalia and Yemen to fight that Global War on Terror. And for the last near-decade, he did all this the way a Tai Chi master fights: using not his own minimal strength, but our massive destructive power to create the sort of mayhem in which he undoubtedly imagined that an organization like his could thrive.

Tom Engelhardt |

The Unholy Grail

My sense is not that bin Laden brilliantly lured us into a trap — or, contrarily, that the convenience with which 9/11 filled an ideological void means it was an inside job — but rather, that the trans-national forces of war are in perpetual collusion with one another, united, you might say, in their servitude to Mars. The two sides are really one side and continually, and unconsciously, give each other what they need in order to keep the game going. During the Cold War, the dance of nuclear provocation had its own acronym, M.A.D., which stood for mutually assured destruction. The human race has been playing this game with itself for six millennia.

Much as we might want peace, if we cheer Osama’s death we cheer for the perpetuation of war and, ultimately, our own — our children’s — mutually assured destruction. We will not achieve peace through that one big kill, that one final quaff from the Unholy Grail. We will achieve only more of the same: “The cause of securing our country is not complete.”

Robert Koehler |