Thursday, June 19, 2014

How To Continue a War

The propaganda plan is falling into place very nicely.

Obama has easily scored the congressional public relations fig leaf and blank check necessary to use military force in Iraq, simply by herding a few leaders into the coveted pen and informing them he doesn't need their damn approval for anything. That is because the congressional approval granted to his predecessor is still in effect. And that means, for all intents and purposes, that the Iraq War has never really ended. From "the most trusted name in news":
While the White House statement emphasized Obama would continue to consult with Congress, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the President "basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn't feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California agreed with McConnell's assessment, adding she believed congressional authorization for military force in Iraq back in 2001 and 2003 still applied.
 Obama "did not give us an array of actions he was planning to take," Pelosi said. "He just talked about his perspective on what was happening there."
Tell me again about the mean old Republicans not letting Obama get anything done. It's the Imperial Presidency, people, and it's got the full bipartisan and plutocratic approval of our rulers. But they still have to pretend to be at odds, in order to maintain the grand illusion that we still have a functioning democracy instead of governance under a corporate-military coup.

So, to deflect attention from this grim reality, and to whip up a whole new froth of pseudo-liberal outrage, enter Dick Cheney and his lovely daughter Liz. They penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed obnoxious enough to guarantee that anything Obama does in the way of violent imperialism will have him coming out smelling like a peace-loving Nobel Peace Prize. A sample of the latest Bad Cop, incestuous neo-con style:
Despite clear evidence of the dire need for American leadership around the world, the desperation of our allies and the glee of our enemies, President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch. Indeed, the speed of the terrorists' takeover of territory in Iraq has been matched only by the speed of American decline on his watch.
The president explained his view in his Sept. 23, 2009, speech before the United Nations General Assembly. "Any world order," he said, "that elevates one nation above others cannot long survive." Tragically, he is quickly proving the opposite—through one dangerous policy after another—that without American pre-eminence, there can be no world order.
It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not "end" wars. Weakness and retreat are provocative. U.S. withdrawal from the world is disastrous and puts our own security at risk.
Cheney is such a repellant character that, despite the obvious manipulation of the public psyche at work here, I couldn't resist joining the chorus of outrage complementing Charles Blow's own duly manipulated outrage at Cheney's blindness to the irony of it all. My own red meat comment adding to the frenzy:
Cheney is not only blind to irony. He's blind to all that is good, true and humane. Just because he has a new heart doesn't mean he has any heart. Were he to be given one of those psychopath tests, he'd likely score off the charts and end up in his own category, somewhere in the darkest spot of the last circle of hell.
Neocon extremists are being given free rein by the same bloodthirsty media hacks who gave them free rein more than a dozen years ago. The talking heads are even waxing nostalgic for the good old days of embeds. The retired generals fomenting fear are obviously hungry for more war profits and plunder.
They make Obama's possible "targeted" drone strikes look therapeutic in comparison. So far, the debate is do we bomb a little, or should we bomb a lot. Doing nothing is simply not part of the acceptable discourse on TV shows sponsored by the military industrial complex.
 You'd think that with a million barrels of fracked oil being produced every single day in North Dakota alone, Cheney and his crude cabal would finally be sated enough to shut up.
And what about the Iraqis still paying the price of American aggression? Iraq Body Count estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 beneficiaries of our Freedoms have died as the direct result of Cheney & Co. being so wrong at the expense of so many.
Cheney's tacit definition of winning hearts and minds is crushing them into bloody pulps.
 He should have been a dud by now. But he keeps right on ticking.
As other commenters noted, Obama has given a free pass to Cheney by not prosecuting him for his war crimes. Additionally, as Martha Shelley of Portland, OR aptly pointed out in her response to me, the Clinton administration also has dirty hands: the economic embargo during his tenure caused the deaths of an estimated half a million Iraqi children by withholding food and medicines.

So Cheney is the useful Machiavellian idiot in the latest surge of American sabre-rattling. He serves the purpose of making complicit Democrats sound absolutely Christ-like in comparison. He serves to enable the continuing marginalization by her own party of Barbara Lee, stalwart Congressional opponent of unfettered presidential power. From The Hill:
We must recognize that there is no military solution in Iraq,” Lee wrote Wednesday in a “Dear Colleague” letter to her fellow Democrats. 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday said the authority that Lee wants to repeal empowers Obama to launch attacks against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has taken over a broad swath of territory in both countries, without going to Congress first. 
“I do not believe the President needs any further legislative authority to pursue the particular options for increased security assistance discussed today,” Pelosi said in a statement. “I am pleased by the president’s efforts to secure strong Congressional support, and I look forward to additional consultation.”
Pelosi and two other Democratic leaders -- Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina -- are fully in favor of any military action that does not include the meaningless hackneyed phrase "boots on the ground."(human bodies not members of Obama's private horde of secret elite forces and corporate-financed mercenaries.)

It's the Cheneys and their odious ilk who give Clyburn (who voted against the first Iraq War)  permission to mouth off and pretend that this sounds sane:
“I’m a great believer in drones, and I think that this situation cries out for it,” said Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat and a respected voice within the CBC.
It's the continuing normalization and respectability of the Lesser Evil, which is every bit as vicious and effective as the Greater Evil.


annenigma said...

I actually forced myself to listen to Obama speaking today, for a few minutes anyway. That's all I could stand. It was quite entertaining. Does he not hear his own words?

If you substitute USA for many of his remarks about other countries, it's quite telling. In the few minutes I listened, he talked about the Iraqi government needing to be more inclusive so the people will feel they have a say - we want that! Then he warned that if Iran gets involved with conflicts in too many countries, it will hurt their economy. Hello? What's it done to our economy, our infrastructure, our schools, etc?

It's fascinating how he can mouth words but his consciousness does not allow them to connect to the reality on the ground here.

Denis Neville said...

Wil S. Hylton’s “The People Vs. Dick Cheney" is one of the most concise summaries of Cheney's crimes.

“Over the past six years, as the country has spiraled into military misadventure, fiscal madness, and environmental meltdown, the vice president has not merely been wrong about the issues; he has been duplicitous, deceitful, and deliberately destructive to the American democracy.”

We're now living in the world that Dick Cheney made.

Congress is preparing to renew the never used terrorism insurance law, a $40 billion and counting free lunch handout to the insurance industry and insured industries, shifting the costs of terrorism from corporations to the taxpayer.

And yet Cheney still roams the Earth! Why isn't he in jail?

Like Ford’s decision to end “our long national nightmare” by letting the criminals in Nixon’s White House escape without a full public accounting of their crimes proved to be one of the greatest mistakes in American history, so too will Obama’s decision to move forward, not backward, by not prosecuting Cheney and Bush for war crimes (Bush was the puppet and Cheney, who nominated himself, was pulling the strings).

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious - makes you so sick at heart - that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” - Mario Savio, Berkeley, 1964

Don’t hold your breath. That was then, this is now:

“A population too busy worrying about their financial future, and seeking escapism in narcissistic and escapist pursuits, is a wonderful thing for those that wish to rule over them. Better for them to be following the latest clothing tendencies of famous personalities, or wondering who will win the latest singing competition, or sharing the minutiae of their lives with others, than spending time questioning why they keep falling behind financially, what right their country has to intervene in the politics of others, or why nothing ever seems to be done about climate change. Better for the youth to be rebelling through superficial choices rather than questioning the underlying rules by which their future will be governed. At a time when more than ever a questioning of the direction that society is taking, and the assumptions that are driving it, is required society is mis-served by a media overwhelmingly selling yet more stuff and celebrating those that can consume the most. When citizens do stray from the cultural script, as with the Occupy Wall Street movement, they are treated more as entertainment by the media, and then squashed by the state when they do not disappear naturally or cannot be co-opted. Then lost down the media memory hole in the same way that the Tiananmen Square protests were, as normal programming was resumed. Better for the masses to keep celebrating their own slow-motion murder, and the elites their own suicide.” – Roger Boyd, “Kamikaze Culture,”

annenigma said...


Thanks for pointing out the renewal of TRIA, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. My insurance agent told me about it a decade or more ago, but I never knew the name of the program or read anything about it anywhere. It was like a trade secret. It figures we'd only learn about it from a foreign news source. It seems odd that it doesn't even come up on a Google search.

The taxes we pay for it year end and year out comes directly from our insurance payments but it isn't specified. I guess we can thank Congress for that, or rather the insurance companies can. No one can question charges or a program that is so carefully hidden from view.

No wonder State Farm and the rest of the big insurers are now mega financial institutions, branching out into investment banking and real estate loans. When did that happen? When they started raking in the TRIA dough and never had to pay a claim from it. Socialize the risk, privatize the profits. Just as the banksters did, they took the free money and loan-sharked it to make even more.

annenigma said...

Clarification - I haven't read the TRIA, and the article makes it sound like only those businesses who buy terrorism insurance policies pay into it, but my agent left me with the impression that every policy they write includes a hidden 'terrorism tax' that goes into their big kitty. That might have been wrong, or maybe not. Who has the vision to read the small print written in invisible ink?

stranger in a strange land said...

From the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Wikipedia page (my bold):

"Under TRIA, the federal government would help insurers cover losses in the event of a terrorist attack under certain conditions, and would also impose assessments on the insurance industry to recover all or a portion of the federal payments."


"TRIA established the Federal Terrorism Insurance Program to administer a system of shared public/private compensation for insured losses resulting from acts of terrorism in order to protect consumers and create transitional period for private insurance markets to stabilize[.]"

Socialize the risk / privatize the profit, indeed. No one wins but the thieves, and they're getting thicker.

Pearl said...

I found this story a nice 'chicken soup" distraction from human reality media reports. Notice his final statement. He would save all kinds of animals (but never mentioned humans) Smart man.

VIDEO: Pool repairman saves squirrel with CPR,, - via @weathernetwork reality.

Will said...

Heartwarming story, Pearl. Thanks!

P.S. I love all squirrels, but I always wanted to be a flying squirrel. Those little daredevils are the coolest animals on earth. And thanks to the modern wingsuit, now we can feel what it's like to be one. Check this out:

Pearl said...

Bravo Annenigma! my sentiments exactly. And also for your great comment to the Drone Killings editorial. I am impressed with all the helpful information on our blog about this issue from our Sardonicky supporters as well as Karen's outstanding contribution. Denis you have added the final piece of the circle with your return. I wonder if Krugman reads some of the better articles in his NYTimes?

Pearl said...

My comment at the end belongs to the current column.