Monday, March 16, 2015

(Dead Men Calling - Don't Iraq Iran)  Who's Taunting US To Go To War With Iran? The Same Group Who Want US To Starve (Kochclintopia, Inc. - It's All An Act, Folks)

Israel's Wars Are for Oil

Republican policies have almost nothing to do with proof or evidence of good sense. They are solely for their base (their largely uneducated or unthinking base). If this base is pleased to starve the domestic unworthy and/or make war on foreign unworthies, then that's the policy.

And when you rule the Congress. That's the program.

Get ready, kids.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Not new:

Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Increase The Number Of People in Poverty in exchange for an even bigger defense budget and more tax breaks for his funders.

The "Washington Post" wouldn't print a column advocating peace to save its life - as such an act just might help to do.

Well, not its life, our lives.

We're lucky that there are a few decent journos still alive and kicking who aren't owned by Amazon or the National Insecurity Forces. (Underlines added for emphasis.)

The "Washington Post" Will Kill Us All

By David Swanson

16 March 2015

"War with Iran is probably our best option." This is an actual headline from the "Washington Post."

Yes it's an op-ed, but don't fantasize that it's part of some sort of balanced wide-ranging array of varied opinions. The "Washington Post" wouldn't print a column advocating peace to save its life - as such an act just might help to do. And you can imagine the response if the headline had been:  "Racism is probably our best option," or "Rape is probably our best option," or "Child abuse is probably our best option." Nobody would object:  "But they've probably had lots of columns opposing child abuse. Surely they can have one in favor, or do you want to shut down debate?" No, some things are rightly considered beyond the range of acceptability. War, in Washington, is not one of them.

Now, war propaganda is illegal under the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights. War itself is illegal under the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter. But the "Washington Post" isn't one to worry about legal niceties.

There was quite a brouhaha last week when 47 senators tried to impede negotiations between the White House/State Department and Iran. Yes, charges of violating the Logan Act were ridiculous. If that was a violation, there have been thousands. In fact here's one now from the "Washington Post." Iran's government reads this vicious piece of propaganda just as surely as it reads an "open letter" from 47 sexually repressed climate-denying bible-thumping nimrods with corporate funding.

When my town's government passed a resolution opposing any U.S. war on Iran I was immediately contacted by Iranian media, and our city council members were never charged with undermining the federal government's so-called foreign policy. But the nonpartisan substance of the critique of the 47 Fools and of the Netanyahu Get-Up-Sit-Down aerobics workout was important and applies equally to the "Washington Post:" advocating war is immoral, illegal, and idiotic.

It is no secret what war on Iran means:

"Iranian cities - owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities - are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, 'Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran:  Lethality Beyond the Pale,' published in the journal "" by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region.

"Its scenarios are staggering. An Israeli attack on the Iranian capital of Tehran using five 500-kiloton weapons would, the study estimates, kill seven million people - 86% of the population - and leave close to 800,000 wounded. A strike with five 250-kiloton weapons would kill an estimated 5.6 million and injure 1.6 million, according to predictions made using an advanced software package designed to calculate mass casualties from a nuclear detonation.

"Estimates of the civilian toll in other Iranian cities are even more horrendous. A nuclear assault on the city of Arak, the site of a heavy water plant central to Iran's nuclear program, would potentially kill 93% of its 424,000 residents. Three 100-kiloton nuclear weapons hitting the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas would slaughter an estimated 94% of its 468,000 citizens, leaving just 1% of the population uninjured. A multi-weapon strike on Kermanshah, a Kurdish city with a population of 752,000, would result in an almost unfathomable 99.9% casualty rate."
The barbaric boneheadedness of someone who would write such murder off as acceptable because the victims are not Americans is almost unfathomable. The response would be attacks on U.S. soldiers and U.S. citizens and the United States. The potential for escalation into a global and nuclear war would be significant, particularly with the U.S. playing at war games on Russia's western border and arming attacks on the government of Syria.

But here comes Joshua Muravchik in the "Washington Post." He's funded by corporate-funded and war-industry-funded institutes. He's backed all the recent wars, including the war on Iraq. He has no shame, no repentance. He wants more war. And all the many wars that President Obama is happy to wage or provoke just aren't enough. There must be a war on Iran.

Muravchik calls Iran "violent, rapacious, devious, and redolent with hatred for Israel and the United States" without offering any evidence or explanation, and then claims - contrary to some 17 U.S. and 1 Israeli spy agencies - that Iran "is bound to continue its quest for nuclear weapons." Imagine submitting an op-ed to the "Washington Post" that asserted that Iran had never had and does not have a nuclear weapons program. The editors would demand proof. Imaging providing the proof. The editors would reject it out of hand. After all, "both sides" make the same baseless accusations. President Obama and Senator McCain will both tell you that Iran is trying to build a nuke and must be stopped. They'll just disagree on how to stop it, with Obama proposing a response that fits better with reality than it does with his own rhetoric.

Muravchik objects to any deal that might be reached with Iran because it will, necessarily and by definition, have Iran's agreement. A better option, he says, would be the above mass-murder scenario. "What if force is the only way to block Iran from gaining nuclear weapons?" Iran is abiding by its treaty obligations, unlike the United States or Israel.

Its nuclear energy puts it close to nuclear weaponry, but no closer than many other nations including all the Gulf dictatorships to which the West is currently spreading nuclear energy, just as it did to Iran - not to mention the CIA's handing nuclear bomb plans to Iran and scapegoating Jeffrey Sterling over it. Beyond a negotiated agreement, a little leading by example, the removal of Israel's nukes, the provision of clean energy, and a coordinated elimination of nuclear energy are entirely doable.

Muravchik knows this. And he knows that anyone you can talk to can work out a deal with you that is far superior to murdering millions of human beings. In fact everyone who's not a vicious fascist pig knows this. So, there are two solutions in the standard propaganda toolbox:

1) claim Iran cannot be talked to, 2) call Iran a bunch of Nazis:

"Ideology is the raison d'etre of Iran's regime, legitimating its rule and inspiring its leaders and their supporters. In this sense, it is akin to communist, fascist and Nazi regimes that set out to transform the world. Iran aims to carry its Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond. A nuclear arsenal, even if it is only brandished, would vastly enhance Iran's power to achieve that goal."
He admits that nuclear arsenals tend not to be used. But he claims that the madmen of Iran, even while exhibiting such rational restraint, would nonetheless spread their imperial conquests. Never mind that the United States has troops in 175 nations while Iran has not attacked another nation in centuries. If Iran can be imagined as behaving the way the United States would, and the United States can be imagined as behaving the way civilized countries do, then violence can be made to seem justified.

But you have to catapult the propaganda:

"Sanctions may have induced Iran to enter negotiations, but they have not persuaded it to abandon its quest for nuclear weapons."
There is of course no evidence for the opening claim in that sentence, nor for the concluding lie.

So, what we need, according to the "Washington Post"'s columnist is another knowingly self-defeating war that makes everything even worse:

"Wouldn't an attack cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime? Perhaps, but military losses have also served to undermine regimes, including the Greek and Argentine juntas, the Russian czar and the Russian communists."
Our over-excited neocon may actually be at the point of imagining that Ronald Reagan invaded the USSR. The "Washington Post," if questioned, will tell you that accuracy is not relevant in opinion writing.

And, if at first you kill millions of innocent people while accomplishing nothing:

"Wouldn't destroying much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress? Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary. Of course, Iran would try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program, so we might have to find new ways to discover and attack them. Surely the United States could best Iran in such a technological race."
Surely. And if not, what's the viability of life on planet earth in the grand scheme of things? After all, there is some "us" for whom a war on Iran is "our" best option. For this crowd, there is a more important world than this one. It is the world of sacred self-deluded megalomaniacal murderers for whom killing is a sacrament.

And never mind the uncontrollable outbreak of wider war, when you've already written off the planet:  "And finally, wouldn't Iran retaliate by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans — as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — with new ferocity? 

Probably. " But, says our sociopathic friend, it is better for the United States to suffer hard losses, while killing lots of Iranians unworthy of any notice, than to suffer the even worse losses that would surely come if an imaginary Iran that behaved like the United States attacked its neighbors and the United States were "drawn in" to those wars.

When you're starting wars, not on the grounds that fictional weapons of mass destruction will kill you otherwise, not on the pretense of preventing an attack on civilians, but on the grounds that if you don't start a war now someone else could theoretically start one later, you have set up a logic of Armageddon. And it may kill us all. We may die in part of overdosing on Hollywood movies with happy endings that convince us reality looks like that. But we won't all die, I feel fairly certain, without the "Washington Post" cheering death through the door.

From the pen of the brilliant Karen Garcia at Sardonicky (underlines added for emphasis):

March 15, 2015

Kochclintopia, Inc.

As I wrote this weekend in yet another comment to yet another New York Times article about the never-ending saga of the Hillary Clinton email scandal:

Just so we're perfectly clear:  in the upcoming Neoliberal Death Match the choice will be which dynastic brand we proles would prefer to serve the uber-wealthy. Because while the rich and the well-connected have their personal servers, both internet and human, the public itself is not being served at all. Widespread poverty and racial/social injustice in the richest country on earth, underemployment, the creeping military/spy/police state, "trade" deals - they're all being conveniently ignored in favor of the personal corruption of emperors and empresses in waiting. As Bernie Sanders notes, Hillary's emails are not being widely discussed in the town square. People have too much else on their (empty) plates.

What else is new in the New Abnormal?

Our post-Citizens United political system is so dirty that the elites of the two big business legacy parties no longer even pretend there's much difference between them. As a matter of fact, they gleefully rub our noses in their perfidy.They brag about how chummy they all are, slithering as they do within the same exclusive exalted circles.

Vote Democrat lest the Koch Brothers take over the place? You have got to be kidding me. The Clintons and the Kochs are buddies. They hang out at the same places and toast each other at galas. They brag about their philanthropies, which in brave neoliberal world aim to replace taxation of the rich and government-mandated social safety nets. Money trumps ideology and the common good in what Gore Vidal called one political party with two right wings.

This incestuous corruption is hiding in plain sight in the "New York Times" Style section:

In a cocktail area in the front of the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center, guests primped and posed in floor-length gowns. Hair was sprayed to perfection, and many of the faces did not appear to move. A young crowd this was not.

But perhaps the most surprising thing about the evening was that while David H. Koch and his wife, Julia, held court in one area of the lobby, Chelsea Clinton was in another.

Ballet apparently makes for strange bedfellows. Mr. Koch, the conservative billionaire who oversees a well-funded political network, said he has met the Clintons before, including at a benefit last year for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Toward the end, this U.N. ambassador asked if I wanted to meet the Clintons,” said Mr. Koch, who on this night wore a blue velvet tuxedo jacket and bow tie. “I said ‘sure.’ So I walked over to the next table, and Bill Clinton was there with Hillary and Chelsea. I started talking to them, and within three or four minutes, there must have been 30 people gathered around the table trying to hear my conversation with three Clintons.”

Moments later, Ms. Clinton returned the compliment. “I have tremendous respect for the Kochs’ support of the arts,” said Ms. Clinton, who was wearing a black dress from Chanel and arrived with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. “We’re standing in the Koch Theater, and I’m thrilled Julia Koch is a fellow board member. She joined the board a couple of years ago, so I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her.”
And then they all dined on caviar and boogied together on the dance floor amidst their fluttering $1 million checks. I am sure that whether it's D or whether it's R, there's a seat waiting at the White House table for Julia Koch for some greed-washing public-private "initiative."

If Hillary wins, I think it's a safe bet that Bill Clinton as First Dude will not be relegated to an office in the East Wing. It's very possible that Chelsea Clinton will be the de facto First Lady, just as Julie Eisenhower filled that role for her parent in the corrupt final days of the Nixon Administration.

If you still don't believe that Democrats and Republicans aren't joined at the hip, there was last night's incestuous Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington. This annual affair is restricted to the most insidery media-political complex insiders. Journalists whose job description used to be affliction of the comfortable had to pledge a solemn oath not to write about the coziness that transpired. But according to controlled leaks, Barack Obama yucked it up big time with his frenemy, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and they all guffawed uproariously over the very serious national trauma that is the Clinton email scandal.

From the "Washington Post"'s account:

The dinner is a love letter to a Washington that never really existed — a romanticized place where politicians, despite all the squabbling, share an abiding respect for each other, the press and the political process. If it was ever true, it’s certainly not now — but it must be nice to pretend for a few hours....

With a guest list of 650 — a fraction the size of the much-hyped White House Correspondents’ Association dinner — Gridiron is arguably a far more coveted ticket within Beltway circles. Gridiron is also the most insular of the city’s press dinners. None of the speakers have to play to C-SPAN or CNN cameras, so they keep it for Washington, by Washington, with insider jokes designed for VIP political junkies who breathlessly parse every off-hand aside for hidden meaning....

The skits are a mixture of hokey and slick, the journalists dressed in elaborate costumes but often bolstered by strong-voiced ringers for the song parodies. There were male reporters playing Colombian prostitutes in a Secret Service skit. There were puns and bad jokes but nothing damning:  The same reporters who appear on Sunday morning talk shows decrying the letter GOP senators sent to Iran had nothing to say about it on stage.
It's all an act, folks. The press conferences, the Sunday shows, the corporate newspaper op-eds. Acting in the private interest disguised as the public interest is such a hard job, but somebody's got to do it. I'm sure the liberals cackled as much as the conservatives over a misogynistic skit ridiculing Latin American sex workers.

No word whether the Koch Brothers were in attendance, or whether they hobnobbed with Obama. But there was a ditty (sung to the tune of an old Coke commercial) about them, composed and performed just for the special occasion. It's exploding into the public domain like a bottle of sugary soda left in the freezer too long:

“We’d like to buy the world for Koch
There’s a billion we will spend
We pay to play in the USA
So freedom doesn’t end.”
As Ken Vogel has revealed, the top 100 political donors gave as much money as nearly five million small donors in the last election cycle. This doesn't even take into account all the anonymous dark money being channeled through Pacs and SuperPacs and 501(c)s. Not only do our votes not count, our combined dollars don't count for much either.

Welcome to the American oligarchy.

Posted by


Denis Neville said...
The culture of excessive privilege, immoral greed, and self-delusional narcissism amongst the ruling elite in Washington …

“And God just loves Washington; of that we are certain. His presence is indeed potent at the Kennedy Center, although everyone keeps looking around for someone more important to talk to.” - Mark Leibovich, This Town

Frank Rich, “The Stench of the Potomac,” wrote that Leibovich’s “book is as much an indictment of the Democratic Establishment as it is of the Washington Establishment. And the two are often synonymous. That’s why the book is funny only up to a point. Delicious as it is to watch preening boldface names make asses of themselves as they network at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the Aspen Ideas Festival, talk-show greenrooms, and the incessant book parties for books no one will open, what lingers from This Town is what will linger in Washington well after its current dinosaurs are extinct:  the political culture owned by big money, Wall Street and otherwise, that the Democrats, no less than the Republicans, have done their best to perpetuate over the past two decades. At least Mitt Romney didn’t pretend to care about the hoi polloi below. Democrats once did.”

When Rich writes, “This crowd is as intractable as it is incorrigible. There are no term limits, because Washington amnesia perennially wipes the slate clean,” I am reminded of my recent pleasure watching “Gore Vidal:  The United States of Amnesia,” and all the hypocrisy, pomposity and mendacity that were Vidal’s targets.

“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses. Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.” - former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan

“The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.” – Plutarch

"The four most beautiful words in our common language:  I told you so." - Gore Vidal

Koch-Congress Preparing To Starve the Poor With Drastic Food Stamp Cuts

By:  Rmuse

March, 15th, 2015

More from Rmuse

One of the reasons the Koch brothers invested so heavily in the midterm elections was to put a stop to domestic spending that a Democratic controlled Senate held in abeyance and never allowed to reach President Obama’s desk.  Now that Republicans hold majorities in both houses of Congress, it was just a short matter of time before they could do the real the damage they have intended since Barack Obama was elected. It is likely they would have cut government down to size by drastically slashing social programs when Obama took office just out of spite, but their devastating Great Recession has proven to be the ideal vehicle to slash domestic spending under the guise of debt and deficit reduction. That is except where spending on tax cuts for the rich and the military, particularly Israel’s military, are concerned; then there are never enough spending increases. It is just how Republicans operate.

Two areas that are particularly offensive to, and primary targets of, the Koch brothers are any kind of spending to help Americans in poverty or  barely subsisting eat and have access to healthcare. Throughout his tenure as chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan proposed Heritage Foundation austerity budgets that all but eliminated spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, food stamps), and changed Medicare into a coupon.

Ryan’s plan for Medicare privatization entails retired Americans producing their GOP-issued “coupon” for an alleged discount when purchasing pathetically underserving and overpriced private health insurance plans instead of using traditional Medicare; the Medicare they paid for their entire working lives. That money they paid into Medicare, according to conservative ideology, belongs to the rich in the form of tax cuts. The good news is that Ryan is no longer in charge of the Republicans’ budget process. But the bad news is the Koch brothers own both the House and Senate, and austerity-mad Republicans are emboldened to do more Heritage budget damage than even Ryan could imagine and targeting food stamps and Medicare is just the first in a long line of austerity cuts to make room for more defense spending and tax cuts for the rich.

The big plan the new Koch Senate is due to propose this week is cutting food stamps substantially and giving the reduced amounts directly to states in the form of “block grants.” Republicans say it makes more sense to let states parse out the reduced amounts in food stamps to the working poor, children, Veterans, the disabled, and elderly because state organizations are “there on the ground” and know what the people really need.

What Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham say the states do not need, particularly Republican-controlled states, is federal bureaucracy telling them how to spend federal money. As is always the case, Republicans claim the federal government has no place telling states how to issue food assistance any more than they have any business regulating toxins poured into the air and water.

Republicans have been pushing ‘block grants’ since 2009 as part of  their storied, and failed, austerity measures that not only drastically cut the amount allotted for food assistance, it allows Republican-controlled states to use and abuse the federal funds without any federal oversight whatsoever. The block grants are also “set in stone” amounts that make no provision now, or in the future, for adjustments for inflation or another GOP recession borne of financial deregulation, unfunded tax cuts for the rich, or the next Middle East regime change war put on the nation’s credit card.

All the things the Koch Congress intends to enact are precisely what Bush Republicans did to increase the number of Americans in need of nutrition assistance in the first place. However, since the Obama economy has grown and millions more Americans have found jobs, the number of food stamp recipients has been on nearly a yearlong decline; but that is not the reason Republicans are proposing major cuts to SNAP. Thy just hate the idea of spending one red cent to help poor children, Veterans, low-wage workers, disabled people, or senior citizens have access to adequate food when that money could go to enrich the elite one-percent and the military industrial complex.

There are some statistics that Republicans are certainly aware of, but just could not care less because they and their funding machine the Koch brothers take great delight in depriving poor children, low-wage workers, Veterans, many active-duty military families, disabled Americans, and the elderly of adequate nutrition when the money can go to those least in need; the wealthiest Americans and military industrial complex. For one thing, the people who use food stamps today bear absolutely no responsibility for crashing the economy in 2008. In fact, a great number of Americans of all ages and demographics still have not recovered from that GOP-created catastrophe that cost them their jobs, homes, or middle class incomes that keep them struggling just to make ends meet.

Republicans are wont to claim food stamps are some kind of luxury giveaway for the lazy, and yet the average income of recipients, including families is only $788 per month; an amount far below the federal poverty line. There is also a myth that food stamps go primarily to people of color, and yet white people make up over 43% of recipients to 25% of African Americans. There is also a Fox News conservative myth that food stamp fraud is rampant and yet the most recent report from the Agriculture Department is that SNAP recorded historically-low levels of fraud and error. One reason to prevent any kind of block grants, much less drastic cuts to SNAP is a recent tactic in Republican states to force recipients to show personal photo ID when they use government-issued SNAP debit cards even though the benefits are issued and distributed to households, not individuals; anything to keep poor Americans hungry.

The number of applications for food stamps has recently fallen drastically due to economic growth and an increase in jobs, and the reason many recipients still qualify is their wages are too low. In an action that makes little sense, Republicans in some states are beginning to demand that recipients “work to receive welfare food” even if they are children, disabled, active duty military families, or senior citizens barely surviving on meager Social Security retirement benefits. A great deal of recipients already work, but Republicans will use any means, and fabricate any excuse, to deny the neediest Americans adequate nourishment. It informs Republicans’ loathing of Americans in need and not about budget savings or debt reduction; particularly when they can spend on the rich.

There is also an economic upside to preventing food stamp cuts that even some, although very few, Republicans are prone to admit. For every dollar spent on providing nutrition assistance from SNAP, $1.70 is returned to local economies that benefit local businesses, state revenue, and most importantly creating and sustaining jobs. However, Republicans have not only shown no predilection to support any measure to grow the economy and create jobs, they have used austerity measures to kill jobs as a matter of course and say “so be it.”

Coupled with their devotion to failed austerity, cutting economically beneficial and job creating food stamps is just par for the course and part of their continued assault on poor and hungry Americans; including children (47%), one million Veterans, disabled people, 25% of active-duty military personnel, and elderly Americans (20%). Republican austerity measures were bad enough when they did not have control of Congress, and based on their proposals due out this week, the Koch-controlled congressional Republicans are going to show Americans a level of damage the nation has not seen since before the New Deal. Americans will finally see precisely what the Koch brothers’ vision for America looks like in real terms, and it begins by denying hungry Americans access to adequate food by using block grants and SNAP cuts; anything to fund more tax cuts for the rich and increased spending for war. It is, after all, exactly what Americans voted, or failed to vote, for just five months ago.

You may also be interested in...

No comments: