Our bold Saudi allies, using US weapons and guidance, struck another blow for freedom in Yemen this weekend, slaughtering 44 civilians including mourners at a funeral for people killed by the Saudis' enemies. The US is currently helping the extremist, misogynist, anti-Semitic, terrorist-supporting, head-chopping Saudi tyrants "restore" a former Yemen leader who took power in a single-candidate election. Because, as we all know, spreading freedom and democracy is the only reason we are involved in the Middle East. That's why we're working with the Saudi tyrants to overthrow the Syrian tyrant with the help of the religious tyrants of ISIS and al Qaeda whom we are also fighting when we are not working with them to overthrow the Syrian tyrant with whom we used to work closely in torturing suspects in the War on Terror but whom we now seek to overthrow just like we did Libya's Gadafy with whom we also worked until we overthrew him and turned his country over to ISIS and al Qaeda whom we are now fighting in Syria when we are not working with them in Syria (and Yemen) along with the terrorist-supporting religious extremists in Saudi Arabia. All of this, of course, springing from the deeply humanitarian exercise in freedom-spreading known as the Iraq War of 2003 (not to be confused with Gulf War of 1991, or the super-righteous War of Humanitarian Annihilation Against Children and the Elderly 1991-2003, during which the progressive Clinton administration openly accepted...
(UPDATED BELOW.) The Kim Davis gay marriage license case is a completely manufactured scandal, designed precisely to produce the current result: a “martyr” jailed for her beliefs, exciting media frenzy and fueling profitable fundraising and grassroots recruitment for ideological agitators. The actual issue is quite simple, and doesn’t involve “religious freedom” at all. But there is something more sinister going on behind these Kentucky conniptions.
In the Atlantic, Matt Ford probes the works of William Bradford, the controversial (and now dismissed) West Point professor whose berserker visions of unhinged state terror, at home and abroad, in the “war against Islamism” give General Buck Turgidison (“I’m saying no more than 10 or 20 million killed, tops!”) a run for his money. After a thorough examination of the views Bradford has been teaching the nation’s future military leaders, Ford ends in puzzlement at how this situation arose in the first place. But surely there is no mystery to that.
So Bernie Sanders wants a "kinder, gentler" program of extrajudicial drone killings. Well, isn't that nice? Isn't that "progressive"? He'll "try" to "limit" the number of children blown into pieces by joystick commandos 10,000 miles away watching a computer screen. What hope, what change! Oh well, he's just doing what anybody has to do to climb that big ole greasy pole of power. As long as he sticks with the Terror War program, the elite will be glad to let him pursue domestic "reforms" that they can easily block, dilute or co-opt -- just as they've done with the eagerly complicit Obama (who is now off to Alaska on a "bold" push to combat climate change ... just after giving Shell Oil the OK to drill in pristine waters there). In the immortal words of Elvis Costello: "Clowntime is over/Time to take cover...."
As the old joke goes, “the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.” Or another variant: “America will never forgive blacks for slavery.” Oppressors and abusers (and the beneficiaries of past abuses) often project their own guilt, self-loathing and dehumanization onto their victims, then hate them for being evidence – the living (or dead) proof – of the abusers’ moral rot. So it is with the rich and the poor, as a new story at Alternet demonstrates.
I have of late been much pestered with electronic message from an outfit called the “Centre for Policy Studies.” It styles itself the “leading independent think tank in Britain” — and it probably is as rigorously independent and open-minded as any gaggle of titled lords, Big Money poobahs, reactionary academics, epic tax-dodgers, Murdoch moochers and imperialist cheerleaders gathered in an institution co-founded by Margaret Thatcher can be.
I read this book a few years back: Worse Than Slavery, by David Oshinsky. An eye-opening read for anyone interested in the genuine history of these deliberately divided United States. After I read it, I sat down and wrote the piece below, which is, of course, still relevant today -- as it has been all-too-relevant these past 150 years.
*This is an edited version of my latest Counterpunch Magazine column.* We are living in a world gone through the looking glass when the most strident, unequivocal -- even scatological! -- denunciations of capitalism and its discontents are coming from … the Bishop of Rome. While Bernie Sanders pushes centrist notions as "radical" reforms and Britain's so-called Labour Party tries to recover from the defeat of Michael Dukakis -- sorry, Ed Milliband -- by kowtowing even more abjectly to corporate power (and demonizing the only leadership candidate not bending the knee to Big Money), Pope Francis is out there literally likening the capitalist system to shit.
"You love your freedom; we love it too. That's why we took it, so we can guard it for you. We'll keep it safe, locked in the vault; every Fourth of July you can take it for a walk...."
(Another recent column for the print version of CounterPunch.) It was a run-down house in a bad neighborhood. In the front yard, a gray Chevette with a smashed grill. The porch sagged and creaked as I walked across it. The front door was unlocked. I went in. It was not dark yet, but late in the day. The wide front room was shadowy; no furniture except a folding card table, a couple of folding chairs and a clapped-out recliner. The table was heaped with a jumble of loose papers, unopened mail, empty beer cans, a dead computer. A slight whiff of spoiled food coming from the back of the house.
A clutch of headlines over a span of two days in April: US dispatches elite troops to Ukraine. US sends warships to Yemen to join naval blockade. BP taking more oil from Iraq in payments as government coffers dwindle. Saudi bombs boost al Qaeda. Sale of US arms fuels wars in Arab states. Michelle Bachmann says all signs point to the Rapture. For the first time in my life, I agree with Michelle Bachmann.