Thursday, December 3, 2009

No Health Reform Until Afghanistan "Saved?" & Who Hates Whom More

Paul Craig Roberts knows the facts about who owns America, what they want and when, how we can pay them off without damaging ourselves any further (and is not afraid to divulge them) (emphasis marks added - Ed.):

Obama can promise health care to 50 million uninsured Americans, but he can’t override the veto of the war lobby and the insurance lobby. The war lobby says its war profits are more important than health care and that the country can’t afford both the “war on terror” and “socialized medicine.

The insurance lobby says health care has to be provided by private health insurance; otherwise, we can’t afford it. The war and insurance lobbies rattled their campaign contribution pocketbooks and quickly convinced Congress and the White House that the real purpose of the health care bill is to save money by cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits, thereby “getting entitlements under control.”

Entitlements is a right-wing word used to cast aspersion on the few things that the government did, in the distant past, for citizens. Social Security and Medicare, for example, are denigrated as “entitlements.” The right-wing goes on endlessly about Social Security and Medicare as if they were welfare give-aways to shiftless people who refuse to look after themselves, whereas in actual fact citizens are vastly overcharged for the meager benefits with a 15% tax on their wages and salaries. Indeed, for decades now the federal government has been funding its wars and military budgets with the surplus revenues collected by the Social Security tax on labor.To claim, as the right-wing does, that we can’t afford the only thing in the entire budget that has consistently produced a revenue surplus indicates that the real agenda is to drive the mere citizen into the ground.

The real entitlements are never mentioned. The “defense” budget is an entitlement for the military/security complex about which President Eisenhower warned us 50 years ago. A person has to be crazy to believe that the United States, “the world’s only superpower,” protected by oceans on its East and West and by puppet states on its North and South, needs a “defense” budget larger than the military spending of the rest of the world combined.

The military budget is nothing but an entitlement for the military/security complex. To hide this fact, the entitlement is disguised as protection against “enemies” and passed through the Pentagon. I say cut out the middleman and simply allocate a percentage of the federal budget to the military/security complex. This way we won’t have to concoct reasons for invading other countries and go to war in order for the military/security complex to get its entitlement. It would be a lot cheaper just to give them the money outright, and it would save a lot of lives and grief at home and abroad.

The US invasion of Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with American national interests. It had to do with armaments profits and with eliminating an obstacle to Israeli territorial expansion. The cost of the war, aside from the $3 trillion, was over 4,000 dead Americans, over 30,000 wounded and maimed Americans, tens of thousands of broken American marriages and lost careers, one million dead Iraqis, four million displaced Iraqis, and a destroyed country.

All of this was done for the profits of the military/security complex and to make paranoid Israel, armed with 200 nuclear weapons, feel “secure.”

My proposal would make the military/security complex even more wealthy as the companies would get the money without having to produce the weapons. Instead, all the money could go for multi-million dollar bonuses and dividend payouts to shareholders. No one, at home or abroad, would have to be killed, and the taxpayer would be better off. No American national interest is served by the war in Afghanistan. As the former UK Ambassador Craig Murray disclosed, the purpose of the war is to protect Unocal’s interest in the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline. The cost of the war is many times greater than Unocal’s investment in the pipeline. The obvious solution is to buy out Unocal and give the pipeline to the Afghans as partial compensation for the destruction we have inflicted on that country and its population, and bring the troops home.

The reason my sensible solutions cannot be effected is that the lobbies think that their entitlements would not survive if they were made obvious. They think that if the American people knew that the wars were being fought to enrich the armaments and oil industries, the people would put a halt to the wars. In actual fact, the American people have no say about what “their” government does. Polls of the public show that half or more of the American people do not support the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and do not support President Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Yet, the occupations and wars continue. According to General Stanley McChrystal, the additional 40,000 troops are enough to stalemate the war, that is, to keep it going forever, the ideal situation for the armaments lobby.

The people want health care, but the government does not listen.

The people want jobs, but Wall Street wants higher priced stocks and forces American firms to offshore the jobs to countries where labor is cheaper.

The American people have no effect on anything. They can affect nothing. They have become irrelevant like Obama. And they will remain irrelevant as long as organized interest groups can purchase the US government. The inability of the American democracy to produce any results that the voters want is a demonstrated fact. The total unresponsiveness of government to the people is conservatism’s contribution to American democracy. Some years ago there was an effort to put government back into the hands of the people by constraining the ability of organized interest groups to pour enormous amounts of money into political campaigns and, thus, obligate the elected official to those whose money elected him. Conservatives said that any restraints would be a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.

Please read the rest here.

If you thought any justice would be given to the prisoners at Abu Ghraib . . . think again (emphasis marks added - Ed.).

The Supreme Court on Monday vacated a lower court ruling that would have required the government to release photographs showing the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. The decision was three sentences long and unsigned, and it followed the enactment of a law in October allowing the secretary of defense to block the pictures’ release. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, for further consideration in light of the new law.

The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, which makes disclosure of information in the hands of the executive branch mandatory unless an exemption applies. The Second Circuit ordered the photos released last year, and the Justice Department initially recommended against an appeal to the Supreme Court.

But President Obama overruled his lawyers, saying his national security advisers had persuaded him that releasing the photos would inflame anti-American sentiment abroad and endanger American troops. Some of the pictures, according to a government brief, showed “soldiers pointing pistols or rifles at the heads of hooded and handcuffed detainees,” a soldier who appears to be striking a detainee with the butt of a rifle, and a soldier holding a broom “as if sticking its end” into a prisoner’s rectum.

In the Second Circuit, the government relied on an exemption to the freedom of information law that applies to “information compiled for law enforcement purposes” that “could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.”

Judge John Gleeson, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the Second Circuit last year, said the exemption required a specific anticipated danger. The exemption “may be flexible, but it is not vacuous,” Judge Gleeson wrote. Referring to “a population the size of two nations and two international expeditionary forces combined,” he said, is insufficient.

The government’s reading, the judge added, would create “an alternative secrecy mechanism far broader than the government’s classification system.”

The Supreme Court’s summary order in the case, Department of Defense v. A.C.L.U., No. 09-160, did not address whether that ruling was correct. It merely said the new law required reconsideration of the case.

The law applies to photographs taken from Sept. 11, 2001, to Jan. 22, 2009, showing “the treatment of individuals engaged, captured or detained after Sept. 11, 2001, by the armed forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States,” so long as the secretary of defense certifies that disclosure “would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States armed forces or employees of the United States government deployed outside of the United States.”

Robert M. Gates, the Secretary of Defense, signed the required certification on Nov. 13. Human rights groups and news organizations, including The New York Times, urged the Supreme Court to refuse to hear the case. . . . The A.C.L.U. issued a statement saying it would continue to fight for disclosure of the pictures.

“We continue to believe that the photos should be released, and we intend to press that case in the lower court,” said Steven R. Shapiro, the group’s legal director. “No democracy has ever been made stronger by suppressing evidence of its own misconduct.”

Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Relations at Harvard University, knows Why They Hate Us (believe it or not it's because we've killed so many of them - who knew?). (Emphasis marks added to increase the fun - Ed.)

How many Muslims has the U.S. killed in the past 30 years?

Tom Friedman had an especially fatuous column in Sunday's New York Times, which is saying something given his well-established capacity for smug self-assurance.

According to Friedman, the big challenge we face in the Arab and Islamic world is "the Narrative" - his patronizing term for Muslim views about America's supposedly negative role in the region. If Muslims weren't so irrational, he thinks, they would recognize that "U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny." He concedes that we made a few mistakes here and there (such as at Abu Ghraib), but the real problem is all those anti-American fairy tales that Muslims tell each other to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. I heard a different take on this subject at a recent conference on U.S. relations with the Islamic world. In addition to hearing a diverse set of views from different Islamic countries, one of the other participants (a prominent English journalist) put it quite simply. "If the United States wants to improve its image in the Islamic world," he said, "it should stop killing Muslims."

Read the rest here. Suzan _____________________________


Liberality said...

The history of this country is founded on genocide so as far as I'm concerned not much has changed. Back then they could give the white settlers a few bones since there was so much to steal. Now those in power are too greedy to give much of anything at all to the majority of the white people here in this country and it has become quite a shock to the middle educated (?) classes at that.

Lisa G. said...

I like the idea of allocating a % of the budget to the MIC; the people should know how much we're spending on the military. I think if people know, they'd choke on it and that would certainly make the conservatives choke on all their 'Democrats are cutting the military' hysteria that we always have to listen to. I call bullshit on that!

Release the fucking pictures already - it's not like we're going to inflame them anymore than we already have. Plus, Americans should know what has been done in our name so we can say, this time truthfully, no more.

Suzan said...

You're right, L.

When it was the darker-skinned citizens getting screwed, it somehow seemed okay to the lighter ones, didn't it?

Lisa, great points all.

Seems to me that if anyone escapes this economic catastrophe without wanting to know the budget breakdown from now on, they get what they deserve.

We must organize to ensure that we reclaim our rights as Americans under our Constitution. Not the tattered version brought to us by the Rethugs of the last 30 years.