(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.
“Come on now, George, admit it: I killed more Iraqi civilians than you ever did, with my sanctions. Don’t you remember my Madeline Albright admitting that 500,000 children had died from those sanctions? And that’s not even counting the old and the sick and the weak and the poor. We’ve got to be talking a million, maybe even 1.5 mill in total. And all of ‘em civilians. What did you bag? About a million, wasn’t it? But hell, at least some of those were soldiers – and it was a war, for god’s sake. We got our crop of corpses in peacetime, quietly, not making a big show about it. And now look: I’m one of the most popular men in the whole world, while you’re just a punch-line on late-night TV. I’ve even got more money than you now!”
And now, an important message from the Hon. Ambrose Calhoun Merriweather, former governor of South Carolina: “My fellow Americans, as we gather to celebrate the birth of our nation, I am saddened to see how some people are trying to sow dissension and division among us, stirring up needless controversy over the Confederate battle flag that flies at the capital of our great state of South Carolina, and at some of our sister states across the South. How it pains me to see that flag cast down in the dirt as an emblem of dishonor.
The people of Greece are being driven to their knees by a gang of brutal religious extremists, willing to destroy whole nations for the sake of something that doesn't even exist. Yet the 'civilized' world cheers these barbarians on as they despoil the cradle of Western democracy.
Very sorry for the dearth of posts in recent weeks. This is due to personal reasons, which I'll not bore you with. I hope to be writing more here in the near future. I do manage to twit a tweet every now and then, which you can check out at @empireburlesque. More later, I hope. In the meantime, many thanks to those who still read and support the blog. I hope to be worthy of that support again soon.
I was going to write about the bizarre and rather sad celebrations across the progressosphere about the great paradigm-shifting “victory” in the passage of the “U.S.A. Freedom Act” — but I find that Tarzie has got there the fustest with the mostest with a fine piece that nails this momentous event as the tremulous sham that it is. He was notes that Rand Paul — new hero of freedom-lovers everywhere — is now calling for 1,000 more FBI agents to monitor the thoughts, beliefs and actions of Americans to make sure they don’t get up to none of them terroristic-like activities … just as AP reveals that the FBI is conducting a vast, secret airborne surveillance across the country. So what’s the takeaway of this historic event? Just this: “We should privatize a few of the NSA’s Stasi operations, while letting the myriad other ‘security’ agencies run wild.” Smell the liberty!
As all the world knows, the United States government is fervently dedicated to advancing the cause of peace throughout the world. Tirelessly, selflessly — and thanklessly — America pursues this noble mission in every corner of the globe: standing shoulder to shoulder with Saudi extremists in slaughtering civilians in Yemen, with al Qaeda and ISIS beheading their way across Syria, with fascist militias in Ukraine. But recently, America’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning president went far beyond these localized acts of lovingkindness and made a beneficent decision that potentially could effect every single person drawing breath on our blue planet.
Arthur Silber has resurfaced after yet another long season in hell — but only to say that the hell goes on, although he hopes to be writing again soon. This, as always, is a consummation devoutly to be wished. As he depends on contributions given for his writing, and as he has not been able to write for several months, he is doubtless in need of support. If you can give, please consider heading over to his site and putting something in the jar. .... I’ve not been writing much myself of late, for various reasons, including some health-related issues — although nothing remotely like what Arthur is going through. But I too hope to be writing more in the coming days and weeks. So watch, as they say, this space.
On Sunday, Human Rights Watch reported that Saudi Arabia is dropping cluster bombs supplied by the United States in the relentless onslaught on Yemen. These horrific weapons — which not only unleash mass death on first use but leave unexploded bombs that can kill for months or years afterward — have been banned by 116 nations. The United States has not signed the convention against cluster bombs, but has greatly restricted their use. However, a loophole left in US law allows the Pentagon’s favorite war profiteers to sell cluster bombs abroad.
Last week, the United States sent an armada to Yemen, to help enforce a blockade of the poverty-ridden country as it groans under the mass slaughter of Saudi Arabia’s American-backed war of aggression. Now the Saudis, employing the bombs they procured from U.S. war profiteers, have shut down aid shipments by air with a bombing raid on the capital, Sana’a. The result will be more hunger, suffering and death in one of the world’s poorest countries. — But hey, wasn’t Obama so funny at that media dinner thing!