Wednesday, August 10, 2011




Freed at last from the debt ceiling negotiations, President Barack Obama is vowing an unrelenting focus on jobs. But the world may not cooperate.




Starting with the Libyan War. Black Star News (via San Francisco Bay View) notes that "the entire Black population" of Misrata has been driven out of the city by the so-called rebels and cites this Wall St. Journal report where the rebels boast of being "the brigade for purging slaves, black skin." Were George W. Bush still illegally occupying the White House, there would be a huge outcry over that. Instead it's little reported. Black Star News states the New York Times has ignored the racism of the so-called rebels of the Transitional National Council and the attacks on Black Libyans:
If the case was reversed and Black Libyans were committing ethnic cleansing against non-Black Libyans, does anyone believe that the people who now control the editorials or the news pages at the New York Times would ignore such a story? Evidently, it doesn't bother the sages at the Times that Black Libyans are specifically being targeted for liquidation because of their skin color.
Instead, the New York Times is busy boasting of its support for NATO's bombing campaign -- as in a recent editorial -- which this week alone is reported to have killed 20 civilians. The Times has also ignored Rep. Dennis Kucinich's call to the International Criminal court (ICC) to investigate NATO commanders on possible war crimes in connection to Libyan civilians killed.
The Times can't write about the ethnic cleansing of Black Libyans and migrants from other African countries because it would diminish the reputation of the 'rebels,' who the Times have fully embraced, even after the ICC also reported that they too have committed war crimes. Instead, the Times is comfortable with the simplistic narrative, "al-Qaddafi bad," "rebels good," regardless of the fact that the Wall Street Journal also reported the rebels are being trained by former al-Qaeda leaders who were relesed from U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay.
Monday, Elaine noted:
Charles Levinson (Wall St. Journal) and William Booth (Washington Post) both report that the so-called 'rebels' in Libya, the TNC-ers, have 'reshuffled' their administrative cabinet in a desperate bid to try to calm the fears of their western supporters over the TNC's assassination of their own colleague Abdel Fattah Younis.
I don't believe a simple cabinet shuffle will calm fears. Their supporters are ready to bail on them. The TNC provided a ton of promises and delivered on none of them.
For a roundtable at Third on Sunday, Jim asked what the most important recent news in the Libyan War had been:
Mike: I'll go. I think it was, I'm pulling up Friday's snapshot, give me a second. Okay, on the second hour of Friday's Diane Rehm Show, James Kitfield of National Journal said, "People aren't really talking about but I believe it's in September the UN resolution that really okayed this runs out and given that NATO has gone way beyond what it originally said it was going to do which was just to protect people from massacre from the air to bombing command centers and taking out tanks, it's very hard for me to imagine that they get an extension of that [resolution] through the [United Nations] Security Council so that means that there might be a due-by-date on NATO airstrike and power for this and the further complicates it." I did not know the UN resolution ran out next month. To me, that's the biggest development.

Elaine: I'd agree with Mike but note that another important story is Reuters' report that the so-called 'rebels' were supplied with ammunition yesterday by a Qatari plane. The coverage from Al Jazeera has been one-sided and pro 'rebels.' That plane owned by the government of Qatar? Al Jazeera is also owned by the government of Qatar.

Ann: While those are both important points, I think the points we made last Sunday in "How's that Libyan War going?" were the biggest issue because, all last week, throughout the whole week, the death of Abdul Fatah Yunis continued to have an impact.
All are important items but Ann's correct that the murder of Abdul Fatah Yunis has continued to have an impact. That is why the so-called 'rebels' did the 'cabinet shuffle' and Elaine's right that that's not enough. Last night Amir Ahmed (CNN) reported 'rebel' 'leader' "Mustafa Abdel Jalil has dismissed the rebels' 14-member executive board" and that this is over the assassination of Abdel Fattah Younis. Kim Sengupta (Independent) explains, "The dismissal of the entire cabinet by Mustafa Abdel Jalil was acknowledged as an attempt to reassure the family of General Abdel Fatah Younes and the powerful tribe to which he belonged -- the Obeidis -- that action was being taken over the death. However, the move late on Monday was also viewed as a further sign of schism within the rebel movement, beset by internal feuding six months into a civil war which appears to have reached a stalemate, with Muammar Gaddafi still in power in Tripoli." RT (Journal of Foreign Relations) notes a 70-page plan to force Gaddafi out which would require staging "a mass uprising in Tripoli" which the US and NATO hope would cause people to leave the government's side and support the 'rebels.' The article notes: "Key to the council's strategy will be the creation of a 10-15,000-strong military force, which is to quell any remaining resistance from Gaddafi loyalists. The troops will be paid for by the United Arab Emirates, the plan suggests. They should be recruited amongst Libyans living in the north-west of the country, Tripolitania, so that their presence is not erroneously taken as a foreign occupation by the locals, says the document."
Turning to the Iraq War and starting with economics in the hopes that we won't all be as ignorant on the topic as Steve Inskeep (see yesterday's snapshot). Nobel winning economist Joseph Stiglitz appeared on Yahoo's Daily Ticker today to address the US economy.
Jeff Macke: We've got a massive debt situation effecting this country. We've got the baby boomers all set to retire, Generation X are set to pick up the tab. Is more stimulus the answer to this debt crisis and what's the end game here?
Joseph Stiglitz: Well more stimulus is about the only thing that we can do. One of the other things that we can do is restructure the debt. One-quarter of all Americans owe more money on their home than the value of their house. The home used to be the retirement account, something to pay for their kid's education. No longer true. It's a liability. And we need to restructure these debts. In corporations, we understand the principal. We have something called Chapter 11 which is designed to keep the corporations going, keep jobs and give the corporation a fresh start. We need to do that for all Americans. We need to have what I call "A Home Owners' Chapter 11" to get these millions and millions of Americans who are being dragged down by this excessive debt, pushed by the mortgage companies and the banks. Restructure it and give them a fresh start. It doesn't do anybody any good to force these people out of their homes. An economy in which you have homeless people and empty homes doesn't make any sense and that's where we're going.
Aaron Task: Right. Right and I know we have to wrap it and I know this opens up a whole other can of worms but did you see anything in the debt ceiling that got done, let's forget the cantankerous negotiations for a second, the deal itself that gives you any hope that we're a step closer to resolving our problems?
Joseph Stiglitz: No. And it actually leaves me very pessimistic because if I had been talking, engaged in that kind of discussion, I would have gone back to 2001 where we had a 2% of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] surplus. And [former Chair of the Federal Reserve Alan] Greenspan argued that we needed to have a tax cut because if we didn't we would pay off the entire national debt and it would be dificult for him to conduct monetary policy. So in a span of just a decade we went from this almost unmanageable surplus to an unmanageable deficit. And to answer the question as to what we ought to do, all you need to do is think about how did we get from there to here? Four things made a big difference. In fact, account for almost all of the difference. And if we reverse those four things, we're actually home easy. What are those four things? A tax cut for the rich beyond our ability to afford. Trillion dollar wars that have not improved our security. A major economic downturn. Put America back to work and our tax revenues will increase enormously. And finally a medical part D of Medicare, Medicare Part D, where we put a provision that we not negotiate with the drug companies, estimated to cost by various people giving various estimates as much as a trillion dollars in a decade.You get rid of those four things and were actually on pretty sound basis.
Most experts estimate that the defence budget would lose $600 billion to $700 billion over the next 10 years. If so, let the guillotine fall. It would be a much-needed adjustment to an out-of-control military-industrial complex.
First, some history. The Pentagon's budget has risen for 13 years, which is unprecedented. Between 2001 and 2009, overall spending on defence rose from $412 billion to $699 billion, a 70 per cent increase, which is larger than in any comparable period since the Korean War. Including the supplementary spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, we spent $250 billion more than average US defence expenditures during the Cold War -- a time when the Soviet, Chinese and Eastern European militaries were arrayed against the United States and its allies. Over the past decade, when we had no serious national adversaries, US defence spending has gone from about a third of total worldwide defence spending to nearly 50 per cent. In other words, we spend almost as much on defence as the planet's remaining countries put together.
Today Dan Rodricks (Baltimore Sun) also notes military spending, "While defense spending in the United States flat-lined for a time, it was always the largest chunk of discretionary spending in the federal budget, and it grew significantly after the Sept. 11 attacks. It grew, by some estimates, 110 percent since the advent of the war on terror and the wars in in Iraq and Afghanistan. We spend more on defense than all other countries combined." The editorial board of the Billings Gazette also notes the large financial drain of the wars, "According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States budgeted spending of $51 billion this year alone on the Iraq War. The Afghan war budget for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, is $119.4 billion. The amount spent on these two wars over the past decade far exceeds the defense cuts contemplated over the coming decade in the deficit-reduction law. War-related costs already total $1.29 trillion for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom." Press TV (link has text and video) interviews the Washington Peace Center's Paul Mango about the economy and the military. Excerpt.
Press TV: Why doesn't the US right now remove their troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, is it because of their revenue for their security firms of Blackwater and DynaCorp?

Magno: Well, I'm not sure if it's the private security auxiliaries in particular. Certainly, there are a lot of privateers like that and a lot of military contractors who have a lot of profits at stake and perpetuating permanent warfare in the region. And so that ends up being part of the problem and the willingness of our political personalities. The secretary of defense --and the president capitulate to that-- keeps the problem going forward. We haven't accomplished very much in the region in a decade's time, and we ought to get out of there and save our money and save what is left of our dignity, I suppose. And that's what all the American people want...
Meanwhile Fatima al-Zeheri (Eurasia Review) gives Steve Inskeep a run for the money in the stupidity contest. Like Steve, it's difficult for Fatima to stay up to date on facts. Fatima wants the US to pay Iraqis money. Really? No, the Iraqi government or 'government.' No way in hell. The Iraqi people are not and have not been served by the government the US put in place. When the Iraqis are finally free of the exiled thugs the US forced on them, they have every right to demand payment for lands damaged and lives lost. But Fatima wants to reward -- please grasp this -- the 'government' made up of exiles who advocated for the Iraq War. In other words, Ahmed Chalabi going to get paid by US tax payers. The 'government' is corrupt. That's why so much money is missing, that's why it's ranked so low on the transparency index. That's before you get into Nouri's latest scandal where over a million dollars in contracts were signed with companies . . . including companies that don't exist. And while Nouri blames the Minister of Electricity, others point that Nouri was co-signer on those contracts. I'm all for the US government paying for the damage inflicted by the Iraq War -- provided it is to Iraqis or a legitimate government that they chose and that represents them.
Fatima the Foreign Policy In Focus writer also insists that the US "must clean up the mess that it made." No, stop saying that crap. The US needs to get out of Iraq. Only a ______ idiot or a War Hawk would suggest, that the US "must clean up the mess that it made." We addressed that stupidity back in 2004 with "Should This Marriage Be Saved?"
When you say the US "must clean up the mess that it made," you are saying that the US must remain in Iraq in order to, yes, "clean up the mess." Buy a damn clue. Your stupidity hurts. I can't be nice to you, I can't pretty it up for you or say, "Nice effort." Your stupidity hurts.
Clean up? We've used the "white carpet" example repeatedly in this community. From February 16, 2006:
On the radio earlier tonight (on Pacifica), it was noted that the Iraqi government, in wake of the most recent Abu Ghraib pictures, was asking that all prisoners in US custody be turned over to the Iraqi government. But some well intentioned ones (or "well intentioned" ones) still think our government can "fix" things. As though if we just give Karen Hughes enough time to work out her spin-charms, Iraqis will forget all about the raids, the arrests, the bombings, the tag-sale on their industries and public goods . . . Elaine long ago compared this attitude to a jerk who spilled red wine on her white rug. If you missed that story, it was years ago. Elaine had her first "adult" apartment that she could furnish as she wanted and she thought the most adult thing in the world would be a white rug (white couch, white was the theme of that living room). As soon as she had the entire apartment decorated to her taste, she threw a party. As I remember the jerk, he was drunk off his rear. He was loud and annoying and staggering. At any rate, he spills not a drop of red wine but the entire glass on her carpet. The color drained from Elaine's face. I'll never forget that. I made no attempt to go over because I knew how much Elaine loved that rug (although I think it may have been carpet, check with her). The jerk insisted upon helping and was only spreading the stain (possibly because he was drunk but maybe just because he didn't know what he was doing). Elaine kept telling him to get out of her way and let her clean up the mess. (That's when I went over.) But apparently, the well intent set can't grasp that when you destroy something, people aren't waiting for you to fix it -- they just want you to go. They want you to leave.
Elaine told the story the next day at her site. And she's told it many times before in community newsletters as well as at Rebecca's site in 2005 when she guest blogged for Rebecca:
It's the same attitude that says, "We have to stay now because we have to fix our mess." Because, apparently, the Iraqis are children who can't do anything without wonderful us. We are causing more strife and more tension, enflaming the region. We can't fix the problem we've caused because we haven't changed a damn thing about ourselves. We went over there with the attitude that we had a right to do so. Now we think we have a right to "fix" the problems. The only people we see with rights over in Iraq are Americans. We render the Iraqis invisible (when not portrayed as terrorists). Simple children who need us to fix it.
Have you ever thrown a party? If so, you'll probably be able to relate to this story. After a year in practice, I decided I was going to have my dream home and that, foolishly, included white carpet in the living room. One glass of spilled red wine and that was it for the carpet. But when the person spilled it, I didn't want their help in "cleaning it up." I wanted them to step away and let me try to fix my own carpet. It couldn't be cleaned up so I had to replace it.
So here's my point, we've ruined their white carpet and while they're doing a slow burn over that, we're saying, "Hey, we can fix it." They just want us out already.
If that's too difficult for someone to grasp, I'd suggest they read "
Should This Marriage Be Saved?"

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"
"Debating withdrawal"
"The prisoner abuse in Iraq"
"6 men, 2 women and sexist pig named Diane"
"The wars, the waking up"
"What's going on?"
"the hits taken"
"Like attracts like"
"Cops of the world"
"Meanwhile in London . . ."
"The Libyan War"
"London calling"
"Girl can't help it"