Monday, September 9, 2013. Chaos and violence continue, we focus on Syria because of the events there, who in Congress listens to the people, who play the role of beat cops in the activist world, MoveOn airs a new commercial, and more.
In 1990’s film adaption of John le Carre’s The Russia House, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Katya declares, “I hope you are not being frivolous, Barley. My life now only has room for truth.” It should be the axiom of today.
Law and Disorder Radio booked biggest waste of time Rashid Khalidi.
It was an embarrassment. Any insight Khalidi may have had in this interview was buried by his wet dreaming, mattress humping of how Barack is too smart for this (an attack on Syria). We’re then reduced to nutty conspiracies. Since the military appears against this, who’s forcing it?
Citing a ‘report’ on The Daily Show, Khalidi begins listing William Kristol and others.
Kristol does not control Barack. The push for war comes from Barack and only Barack. He is the one who wants it. Even he admits that the buck stops with him. As war looms, the country does not have time to indulge Khalidi’s immature fantasies.
His nonsense is as bad as Medea Benjamin. CodeStink did not lead on Syria and wouldn’t be doing anything on any scale now were it not for the fact that they got called on their b.s. While refusing to lead on Syria, they were happy to speak to the press as ‘experts’ on today’s antiwar movement.
Why aren’t more people in the streets? It’s just hard to mobilize whimpered Medea (and other ‘leaders’).
Reality, more people are getting in the streets. This week’s protests have been larger than last week’s and they will continue to grow. Credit A.N.S.W.E.R., IRC and The World Can’t Wait for that, they have been among the ones doing the heavy lifting.
But the biggest obstacle to protests have been the idiots like Medea and Khalidi. You want people in the street, you have to personalize it. That’s reality. Concepts have not gotten people into the streets in post WWII America. Occupy in NYC couldn’t get a crowd going until they lied that Radiohead would be giving a free concert.
To protest US actions, the face on the pinata has to be the US president.
But fools like Khalidi go on the radio to excuse Barack, to praise his alleged intellect and what have you. Fools like Medea call out a Hillary Clinton or a John Kerry but heaven forbid that they ever show the same contempt for Barack that they do for those in his administration or the same contempt for Barack that they expressed for Bully Boy Bush.
Outrage over Barack’s actions grow and then comes CodeStink to clamp down on it. No, be outraged. When you consistently insist he’s smart, rational and peaceful, why the hell should I leave the comfort of my home, give up time I could be using on something fun and go out into the streets to protest?
When you go out in the street
So many hassles with the heat
No one there can fill your desire
Cops out with the megaphones
Telling people stay inside their home
Man, can’t they see the world’s on fire?
— “Safe In My Garden,” written by John Phillips, first appears on the Mamas and the Papas’ The Papas and the Mamas
The ‘cops’ today include the worthless trash like Medea Benjamin. You may remember I-Need-Attention Benjamin heckled Barack in May. She immediately went on Democracy Now! to insist, “And I didn’t do what I did to embarrass the president. I did it because I feel that he needs to be pushed more.” To what? Use more drones? Why the f**k do you apologize for calling out the leader of The Drone War? Grown ups don’t. America’s Mental Mall Cops do.
Barack is over The Drone War, he’s over the assault on Libya, he’s refused to talk to the American people about the army unit he sent back into Iraq last fall, he’s over the illegal spying, go on down the list.
Stop protecting him. Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) isn’t afraid to call it like it is, “The First Black U.S. President, who was hired (by corporate sponsors, and later elected) to put a new face on U.S. imperial policy after his predecessor’s defeat and international isolation over Iraq, now finds himself more alone in the world than George Bush, and with even less support at home.” Cornell West explains to Chris Hedges (Truth Dig):
“He is a shell of a man,” West said of Obama. “There is no deep conviction. There is no connection to something bigger than him. It is a sad spectacle, sad if he were not the head of an empire that is in such decline and so dangerous. This is a nadir. William Trotter and Du Bois, along with Ida B. Wells-Barnett, were going at Book T tooth and nail. Look at the fights between [Marcus] Garvey and Du Bois, or Garvey and A. Philip Randolph. But now if you criticize Obama the way Randolph criticized Garvey, you become a race traitor and an Uncle Tom. A lot of that comes out of the Obama machine, the Obama plantation.”
The failure of supposed antiwar ‘leaders’ to hold Barack accountable, to call him out the way they would Bully Boy Bush, goes a long way towards explaining the attacks on Cornel West for truth telling. Medea and her ilk harm Cornel, harm all of us, harm the state of discourse.
Barack Obama has been elected president twice. How weak and helpless do you really think he is?
The people are outraged, stop trying to prevent that. The outrage is genuine and understandable and it is the only thing that will prevent more indiscriminate killings by Barack. He is not a community organizer. He is the president of the United States. As he established in his first term, he intends to use the office as enemy of the people.
And at this point, you’re either a defender of Barack or you’re a defender of the people attacked. You can’t rush around, as CodeStink does, defending Barack and also be defending the people of Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, etc. It’s as ridiculous as Gloria Steinem in 1972 saying she was supporting Shirley Chisholm in 12 states and George McGovern in the rest — as Shirley herself publicly pointed out, that wasn’t helping Chisholm’s presidential campaign at all.
And covering for Barack isn’t helping the people of Syria. Ralph Nader (CounterPunch) notes in an open letter to Barack:
Your argument for shelling Syria is to maintain “international credibility” in drawing that “red line” regardless, it seems, of the loss of innocent Syrian civilian life, causalities to our foreign service and armed forces in that wider region, and retaliation against the fearful Christian population in Syria (one in seven Syrians are Christian). But the more fundamental credibilities are to our Constitution, to the neglected necessities of the American people, and to the red line of observing international law and the UN Charter (which prohibit unilateral bombing in this situation).
As Ava and I noted Sunday:
The heart of the argument to attack Syria these days goes something like, “What will it say about Barack Obama, after he’s made clear he wants to attack Syria, if the Congress denies him?” Assuming that a Congressional denial did say something about Barack, isn’t the more important question: What will it say about the American people and democracy, after the people have made clear that they don’t want an attack on Syria, if the people’s elected leaders refuse to heed public sentiment? In a functioning press, that question would be asked far more often than what-will-this-mean-to-Barack because, in case you’ve forgotten, no supreme law of the land opens, “I, the President”; however, the Constitution opens, “We the People . . .” It’s a fact that the politicians and the media repeatedly ignore and silence.
MoveOn is stepping up, to their credit, and being a voice of the people. Rebecca Shabad (The Hill) reports they have followed up on last week’s promise, “Liberal group MoveOn released a 30-second TV ad Monday opposing U.S. intervention in Syria that will run on MSNBC this week, according to its website.” Click here to stream the commercial. Transcript:
Announcer: We never set out to spend 8 years in Iraq or to be mired down for more than a decade in Afghanistan
Title Card: NEARLY 7,00 AMERICAN LIVES LOST IN IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN, washingtonpost.com/facesofthefallen
Title Card: ALMOST $2 TRILLION SPENT IN IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN The Washington Post, 3/28/13
Announcer: So what should America expect if we rush into Syria alone with no real plan for the consequences.
Title Card: “SHOULD U.S. GOT IT ALONE IN SYRIA?” USA TODAY, 9/5/13
Announcer: We already know, it gets worse. Congress, most Americans oppose missile strikes in Syria. Don’t lead us down this road again.
Title Card: CALL CONGRESS AT (202) 224-3121 & TELL THEM: VOTE NO ON MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA
Good for MoveOn. I’m not a MoveOn booster. We long ago dubbed them WalkOn.com. But I have no problem noting that on this issue, they listened to their members and they took action. Good for them.
What’s more offensive than government officials who won’t listen to the public? How about those who also openly spit on the law? Samantha Power, A Problem From Hell, has no respect for the law. Today, Steve Inskeep spoke to her for Morning Edition (NPR — link is audio and transcript):
INSKEEP: Let me ask a central question for you, because you’re representing the U.S. to the United Nations, which has not authorized a strike. Would an American strike on Syria be legal?
POWER: If we take military action in this context, it will be a legitimate, necessary and proportionate response to this large-scale and indiscriminate use of chemical weapons by the regime. [Blah blah blah of Power lying and spinning and we’re not in the mood. She’s avoided the question.]
INSKEEP: So let me just make sure that I’m clear on this. You’re saying that something needs to be done and it is time to go outside the legal system, outside the legal framework. You believe it is right to do something that is just simply not legal.
POWER: In the cases of – we’ve seen in the past, there are times when there is a patron like Syria backed by Russia. We saw this in Kosovo as well, where it was just structurally impossible to get meaningful international action through the Security Council. And yet, in this case, you have the grave breach of such a critical international norm in terms of the ban on chemical weapons use, it is very important that the international community act so as to prevent further use.
In other words, legality doesn’t matter. In other words, the law matters when Power says it does and the law is irrelevant when Power desires to ignore it. That may be how she sees the law but that’s not actually how it works. IPS analyst Phyllis Bennis has repeatedly explained how the law works. We’ll note her speaking to Peter Hart on FAIR’s Counterspin two Fridays ago:
Phyllis Bennis: Only if the [United Nations] Security Council votes to endorse the use of force is the use of force legal. No other agency, institution, organization has that right. So the Kosovo precedent that you refer to and that unfortunately this is being talked about in the press. It’s being asserted that if the Security Council doesn’t agree, there are other options. Yeah, there are other options. The problem is they’re all illegal. The Kosovo model was illegal. What the US did in 1999, when it wanted to bomb, to start an air war against Serbia over Kosovo, realized it would not get support of the Security Council because Russia had said it would veto. So instead of saying, ‘Well okay we don’t have support of the Security Council, I guess we can’t do it,’ they said, ‘Okay, we won’t go to the Security Council, we’ll simply go to the NATO High Command and ask their permission.’ Well, what a surprise, the NATO High Command said ‘sure.’ It’s like the hammer and the nail. If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you’re NATO everything looks like it requires military intervention. The problem is, under international law, the UN charter is the fundamental component under international law that determines issues of war and peace. And the charter doesn’t say that the Security Council or NATO or the President of the United States can all decide over the use of force. The only agency that can legally approve the use of force is the Security Council of the United Nations. Period. Full stop.
It’s that basic. Alan Greenblat (NPR) reports:
In terms of calls and emails coming into Congress, opposition has been closer to unanimous.
Florida Republican Rep. Steve Southerland that of the 300 people who called or emailed his office, 96 percent opposed U.S. intervention in Syria. On Thursday, Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of constituents who called, emailed or wrote his office: 1135 opposed, 18 for.
Senate offices don’t appear to be much different.
Apparently the White House and some members of Congress are less interested in listening to the people and more interested in helping the ‘rebels.’ Ken Klippenstein (RT) points out:
In a twist of irony that has escaped mainstream commentators, during the week of 9/11, the US is considering a course of action that will empower Al-Qaeda, i.e. bombing Syria.
As terror expert Evan Kohlmann put it, “two of the most powerful insurgent factions in Syria are Al-Qaeda factions.” Kohlmann is an authority on the subject, having worked as a consultant in terrorism matters for the DoD, DOJ, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies.
At least one organization is listening to the people. Paul Steinhauser and John Helton (CNN) report, “The CNN/ORC International poll released Monday shows that even though eight in 10 Americans believe that the Bashar al-Assad regime gassed its own people, a strong majority doesn’t want Congress to pass a resolution authorizing a military strike against the regime. More than seven in 10 say such a strike would not achieve significant goals for the U.S. and a similar amount say it’s not in the national interest for the U.S. to get involved in Syria’s bloody two-year long civil war.” AP‘s poll “found that most Americans oppose even a limited attack on Syria.”
Some do listen. US House Rep Tulsi Gabbard’s office released the following:
Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced her strong opposition to a U.S. military intervention in Syria. She made her decision after returning to Washington early last week for the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the situation in Syria, and attending several classified briefings with Administration officials and meetings with her colleagues in the House and Senate. She released the following statement:
“I am sickened and outraged by the carnage and loss of lives caused by the use of chemical weapons in Syria. It is with gravity that I have carefully considered all the facts, arguments, and evidence and soberly weighed concerns regarding our national security and moral responsibility. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that a U.S. military strike against Syria would be a serious mistake.
“I will therefore vote against a resolution that authorizes the use of military force in Syria. I will also strongly urge my colleagues to do the same.
“The reasons behind my decision are many. Here are a few:
- “As a soldier, I understand that before taking any military action, our nation must have a clear tactical objective, a realistic strategy, the necessary resources to execute that strategy—including the support of the American people—and an exit plan. The proposed military action against Syria fails to meet any of these criteria.
- “Presently, Syria does not present a direct security threat to the United States. Military action will undermine our national defense, as even a limited strike could very easily escalate into a regional conflict, stretching thin a military that has been at war for more than 12 years.
- “We should learn from history; we cannot afford to be the world’s policeman. The United States should not insert itself in the midst of this civil war, which is rooted in sectarian hatred and animosity between various warring religious groups.
- “All Americans are saddened and angered by the carnage that has resulted from the use of these chemical weapons. However, even after the many hearings and classified briefings I have attended, I am unconvinced that this military strike would eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons or prevent them from being used again. Indeed, the risk may increase, due to the possibility these weapons could fall into the hands of Syrian opposition group factions such as Al-Qaida, who we can be confident would use them without hesitation.”
US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth has also expressed her opposition. The two are among a number of Iraq War veterans who are announcing their opposition to an attack on Syria. At The Daily Beast, Iraq War veteran Brian Van Reet outlines his opposition which includes:
Marco Werman (PRI’s The World, link is audio and transcript) spoke with Iraq War veteran Marc Fisher, “I think they should do something about the humanitarian crisis, but I don’t think it should always be us. If we want to come in and help them, yeah, let’s help them with humanitarian efforts, get some supplies, let’s get people out of there. But you know, using this military force, it seems to be like our only option. And we’re always the bullies doing this stuff. And this is the funny part, I’ll tell you, Marco: I served in Iraq and when me and my friends talk about this or when I talk about it with my colleagues at work with the civilians, the bombings and all this other stuff, I always say this is Afghanistan on Sunday, you know. On Sunday there’s an Apache helicopter that launches a missile into a house or a Predator launches a missile somewhere in Waziristan and a bunch of civilians get killed. And now when the Assad regime does it, and I don’t like the Assad regime, but suddenly they’re a bunch of big bad guys, you know. And I’d like to see the numbers compared. I’d like to see the difference between some of the stuff we’ve done in Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan versus what these guys are doing, you know.” (Marco Werman’s also spoken with Iraq War veteran James Sperry who supports a strike on Syria.) The right-wing news outlet Newsmax notes, “Republican congressmen who have witnessed the horrors of war for themselves as combat veterans are among those leading the way in opposition to American involvement in Syria. Reps. Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, Chris Gibson and Michael Grimm of New York, Doug Collins of Georgia, Ron DeSantis of Florida and Steve Stivers of Ohio have all come out saying they oppose air strikes.” Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) reports on Senator Bernie Sanders’ opposition to an attack on Syria:
“At a time when the middle class is literally disappearing,” he said, “when 46 million people are living in poverty and real unemployment is close to 14 percent, and a generation of kids are graduating from high school and college and can’t find any work, and when we have the most unequal distribution of income since the Great Depression, what do you think is going to happen if we go to war with Syria?”
His answer: These issues won’t get addressed at all. They “keep getting pushed aside because of war and war and war and war,” he said.
He added: “I don’t want our country to become the Sparta of the twenty-first century.”
There has been no Congressional vote in either house yet. A Committee vote is not a floor vote. All passing a Committee vote means is the bill is sent to the floor for a vote. Though at the poorly attended US State Dept press briefing today, spokesperson Marie Harf attempted to discern meaning in last week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote, “So clearly that’s on a positive trajectory.” A vote is expected soon in both houses. Norman Solomon (normansolomon.com) observes:
That decision is coming soon — maybe as early as Wednesday — and the Obama White House is now pulling out all the stops to counter public opinion, which remains overwhelmingly against a war resolution. The administration hopes to win big in the Senate and carry momentum into the House, where the bomb-Syria agenda faces a steeper climb.
Some Democratic senators who’ve cultivated progressive reputations nationwide — Barbara Boxer of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota — haven’t hesitated to dive into Obama’s war tank. Boxer, Durbin and Franken quickly signed on as carnage bottom-feeders, pledging their adamant support for the U.S. government to attack yet another country.
Other Democrats, like Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico, have made clear their intention to vote “no” when the war-on-Syria measure reaches the Senate floor.
The Green Shadow Cabinet issued the following on Friday:
(1) Take the Peace Voter Pledge. “I pledge that I will not vote to reelect any member of Congress who votes for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Syria.”
Sign the pledge right now: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/peacevoter
(2) Call Congress. Tell them you took the Peace Voter Pledge, that you “will not vote to reelect any member of Congress who votes for the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Syria.” Tell them why. Call them today and tomorrow at their local offices (click here for directory). Call them on Monday and next week at their D.C. offices (call the switchboard at 202-224-3121).
(3) Speak Out Online, In the Streets, and Directly. Help build a Thunderclap of online protest against attacking Syria. Join and organize demonstrations in your community. Go directly to meet with your congressional representatives.
The Green Shadow Cabinet is an alternative to the White House Cabinet in Washington, D.C. – an example to the country that “another government is possible.” Since April, the Cabinet has issued a series of statements opposing U.S. military intervention in Syria and promoting diplomacy with Russia and Iran as unexplored alternatives. These statements may be found here.
“The most effective deterrent against the use of chemical weapons is not the mass bombing of Syria, an action that would be illegal under international law and counterproductive, but to use the international legal system that has been built since World War I and take legal action under the Chemical Weapons Convention,” wrote Attorney General Kevin Zeese yesterday in an official Green Shadow Cabinet statement.
Secretary of Defense Leah Bolger and Secretary of Peace David Swanson have warned that: “U.S. military involvement in Syria could only make things worse. Syria does not need a ‘no fly’ zone. It needs a ‘no weaponizing’ zone. The White House and its allies need to stop arming one side of a civil war, and to persuade Russia to stop arming the other. Further escalating the violence will result in nothing that could outweigh the damage of that violence.”
Pledge for Peace. Thank you.
For those unfamiliar with the Cabinet, “The Green Shadow Cabinet includes nearly 100 prominent scientists, community and labor leaders, physicians, cultural workers, veterans, and more, and provides an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington D.C.. As with shadow cabinets in other countries, the Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States responds to actions of the government in office and demonstrates that another government is possible. This cabinet is led by the 2012 Green Party presidential nominees of Dr. Jill Stein and Ms. Cheri Honkala and supports independent politics and policies. However, it is not a project of any political party.” In addition to the above, US House Rep Alan Grayson has a petition online “Don’t Attack Syria.” Analyst Phyllis Bennis teams with Jenna Schlags at Institute for Policy Studies to author “Talking Points: Why We Shouldn’t Attack Syria” — and they’ve made it available in an easy downloadable format.
Calls for peace isn’t the only thing a possible US attack on Syria is prompting. Kitabat reports Shi’ite militants today have stepped up threats that they will hit US targets in Iraq if there is an attack on Syria. Shi’ite militias are stating they have 23,000 willing to seek “martyrdom” and that they have received training and been supplied with equipment for just that reason. It is stated that Americans in Iraq will not be able to escape the retribution of the 23,000 and that the biggest loser from an attack on Syria will be the US and its ally Israel. Hezbollah in Iraq has issued its own statement where they note that the US was able to go to war on Iraq but it did not go the way the US had hoped, that an attack on Syria will not as well and that the US should stop subordinating their own needs to those of “the Zionist lobby” and oil money — apparently a reference to Saudi Arabia.
Turning to Iraq’s internal political situation, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi Tweeted the following in the last 24 hours:
The Tweets come as the vote on the legislation for next year’s parliamentary elections has again been postponed. All Iraq News reports that September 19th is thought to be the last day on which to vote without delaying the elections planned for early next year. Kitabat notes rumors that Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc will be making amendments to the proposal and that these amendments are seen as part of the continued conflict between Moqtada and Nouri. Ahmed Hussein and Muhannad Muhammad (Alsumaria) report the postponement is due to the desire to switch to an open-list system. NINA quotes Iraqiya MP Wahda al-Jumaili stating, “The delay in adopting the electoral law and its impact on the work [of] IHEC is what some political blocs want in order to postpone the parliamentary elections.” Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports there is a growing belief that there is a concentrated effort on the part of some in government to prevent elections from taking place next year.
Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 268 violent deaths so far this month. NINA notes 1 person shot dead in Ramadi today, and 2 people were shot dead in Mosul. All Iraq News adds 1 person was shot dead in Babel. Alsumaria reports a Mosul suicide bomber has left three people injured, the Iraq Times adds the suicide bomber was attempting to attack a Peshmerga checkpoint. The Iraq Times reports 3 people were found hanged from a bridge in Basra.
From last night:
Last December, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke. The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad’s Medical Center Hospital. Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany. He remains in Germany currently. Early Sunday, All Iraq News reports, Osama al-Nujaifi declared he attempted to meet with the hospitalized Jalal five months ago (that would have been around April) but was rebuffed. He states he has again asked for another meeting. He further states if Jalal is unable to resume his tasks shortly, a new president needs to be named.
Dar Addustour columnist As Sheikh notes today that the Constitution is very clear on what happens when the president can’t perform duties but how is that determination made? (Is Jalal performing duties from the hospital in Germany? He could be. If he is, the Constitution would see him as in office.) The Constitution says nothing, Sheik notes, about how long a president can be out of the country. He reviews the rumors that Jalal has not recovered, that he is in a coma, that he has passed away, that his family is putting up a pretense that Jalal has recovered. He ends his column with a call for clarity both in terms of the governing rules and in terms of the state of Jalal’s health.