Monthly Archives: January 2014


A few months ago (back in March) I wrote about how people were ignoring what was going on in Iraq.  Once President Maliki sort of threw us out, people in the US seemed to think we’d had a complete victory, and that this “Young Democracy” would flourish just as the Bush administration had sold its propaganda to us.  It’s amazing to me how gullible the American people are.  There was no chance that Maliki was going to do anything in Iraq except become the kind of government that was all they’d known since the advent of Saddam Hussein.  It was just going to be Shia authoritarianism instead of Sunni dictatorship.  In spite of his promises to the contrary, Maliki has never made any real attempt to include Sunnis in his government.  He even went so far as to chase some of them out of the country and throw others in jail.  People who were members of Parliament.  The Vice President.  Sunni fighters were rarely welcomed into the army or the police and lost access to jobs and paychecks to support their families.  Support was withdrawn from the members of the “Awakening” which had turned to help the Occupiers.  He sent in his “special” troops to break up a peaceful demonstration, and that was the last straw before the latest explosion.

Anger and resentment has been building among the Sunnis since the Americans left.  It is not surprising, especially with the turmoil going on in Syria, that jihadi fighters have returned and helped the rebellious Sunni in Anbar province retake Fallujah.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for the marines who fought and gained the city back in 2004.  They thought they were doing the right thing.  They fought hard, hand-to-hand in many cases, and lost a lot of comrades in the bloodiest of bloody battles.  Many came home missing body parts and with severe cases of PTSD.  Even so many thought they had done the right thing in answering the call to war.  Those responsible for sending them and lying to the American public about Saddam’s connection to 9/11 and his WMD have never been held accountable for their betrayal of the public trust and the trust of their soldiers.  The prize those leaders sought was never to be had, no matter what they did to engineer something that looked a bit like representative government in Iraq.

It’s a bitter, bitter pill to swallow.

From Hoover to the NSA; Raines’s to Snowden

The New York Times today has an article and a video on the 1971 robbery of a small FBI office in Pennsylvania. The video is stunning:

It brings back an entire era for those of us old enough to remember it.  The protesters became paranoid for very good reasons.  They knew the FBI was watching everyone it could.  The Agency didn’t have the same kinds of tools it does today, but the attitude and the justification for secrecy was the same (“National Security”).  The difference was the numbers of people who would not accept that what the FBI was doing was right.  People today have let their fears control them and inhibit their objections to the NSA’s shenanigans, but it has taken the same kind of gutsy individual courage to expose the facts as it did then.  The only difference is that the Raines and their friends were able to maintain their secret identities for 42 years.  Edward Snowden didn’t have that chance.  Neither did the reporters who worked with him, because apparently government has become even more paranoid about covering up it secrets than it was during the Nixon/Hoover era.  We should give that difference some real deep thought.

Excessive secrecy in government has always led to abuse, but the abuse has so far equally  found a way to leak out into public.  It makes you wonder why government in a democratic republic like ours keeps trying to pry into the lives of its citizens to protect itself from them, and other phantoms of their imaginations, when its greatest strength lies in openness and truth.  Maybe that has something to do with why democracies have never succeeded for long.  It’s past the time when Americans and their government let fear overrule common sense.

Government by blackmail

It’s still happening, and what we get is what seems to me to be very fuzzy logic.

But the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, made clear he would exact a price for consideration in the House, saying that not only would an extension of expired benefits have to be paid for but that it must also be tied to Republican priorities, such as building the Keystone XL oil pipeline, expanding exemptions from the Affordable Care Act and opening energy exploration on federal land.

“One month ago I personally told the White House that another extension of temporary emergency unemployment benefits should not only be paid for but include something to help put people back to work,” Mr. Boehner said after the Senate vote. “To date, the president has offered no such plan. If he does, I’ll be happy to discuss it, but right now the House is going to remain focused on growing the economy and giving America’s unemployed the independence that only comes from finding a good job.”

I just don’t understand how putting the health of the land at risk of permanent damage to create a few temporary jobs on the pipeline, or making the ACA less accessible to ordinary people by giving exemptions to rich people on the lamest of excuses gets us anywhere near creating jobs for the people who want to work and provide for their families.  I keep hearing this mantra from conservative politicians everywhere – we have to give corporations and the wealthy tax breaks in order to create jobs.  When you look at the results of all the recent tax cutting in states like Ohio, I don’t see where the jobs have come in spite of all the crowing the governor does.  The jobs he is so proud of creating came as a result of the stimulus, and had little to do with Kasich’s actual actions.  And his Jobs Ohio thing is so secretive it can’t be audited anyone even though it uses taxpayer money.  It’s just a program ripe for abuse.

Corporations who got the tax breaks are rolling in cash, but they’re not spending it on factories or hiring workers except very slowly.  They’ve been sitting on it.  Giving them more breaks won’t make them spend any more.  Take a look and unemployment:

Even if we assume the 7% November unemployment number is accurate, why is everyone ignoring the government’s own 13.2% rate of unemployment combined with underemployment” It’s a statistic that most experts agree is the more accurate picture of true unemployment .

And even if more than 200,000 new jobs were created in November, why aren’t we talking about what kind of jobs those are?

Economist and author John Lott reported recently that 96% of the jobs created since January [2012] are crummy part-time jobs.

Billionaire businessman and publisher Mort Zuckerman disagrees . He says 88% of the jobs created this year under Obama are crummy part-time jobs. No matter which figure you believe, the “recovery” is a mirage. This economy is only doing well if you want a job at McDonald’s.

I guess conservative politicians don’t believe in numbers or a reality that’s contrary to their rigidly held doctrines.