Illustration: As the Governor of California would say, this is our leader. Sieg!
This week is difficult to summarize as so little of it deviated from the expected path. The Decider doesn’t want children to have health insurance as it would mean the government had something to do with it. Pity the thought! A member of Congress correctly pointed out that it would amount to 41 days in Iraq in costs.
I think he is on to something here. Everything in the budget should not be put in terms of money, per se, but in terms of days in Iraq. As far as I can tell, one week in Iraq would fund all the mental health needs of this country forever. But then, I am not an economist (neither is anyone else these days, Keynes and Galbraith are no more).
More information on the false sheik has come to light and I reprint an article on that.
Oh yes, the President of Iran was here. He appeared, bu invitation, to speak at Columbia University in New York. The cowardly President of Columbia, covering his ass and scoring points with donors, called him a “petty and cruel dictator,” or something like that. Not only is that cheap and petty in itself, it is inaccurate. The Decider has more power than Ahmadinejad who can not even appoint his own cabinet. Of course, one does not get to be President of a University by being polite or accurate or even a scholar. He actually made all Americans look petty overseas as this is a rude violation of the basic rules of hospitality.
No matter, Ahmadinejad made a fool out of him and received more applause that anyone ever expected as he gave a very rational address. The only gaffaw in the speech was during the Q&A session where he said there were no homosexuals in Iran. He would have done better to say that it is not an issue in Iran. Actually, the only rhetorical or logical way to objectively refute anything he said would be to attack his major premise, that of a monotheistic necessity. If one accepts the notion of one God ruling the universe, he makes perfect sense and can not be refuted.
Even on the point that seems the weakest, the Holocaust, his argument was two-fold. The most important aspect was that since it took place in Europe, why punish the Palestinians for it? The other was a bit more abstract – no academic subject should be considered closed. Why not do further research on the Holocaust? Imagine the results if we had decided that Newton had established the final truth about physics. Relativity and Quantum Mechanics would not exist.
Maybe that would have been a good idea? After all, a Senator from Indiana once introduced a bill to make π = 3 and in the late 19th Century one introduced a bill to close the patent Office since there was nothing left to invent. Then came Edison, Steinmetz, and a few others and the idea was dropped.
Anyway. Chavez decided it wasn’t worth the trip. Morales did speak and I may post his speech next time. Chairman Mao once said his ancestors were wise enough to invent ink, but not the newspaper, gunpowder, but only used it for fireworks; and the compass, but had the good sense not to discover America.
Oh yes, more was revealed about Blackwater (which really sounds vile when translated into Arabic, take my word for it). It seems that if we add the mercinaries, we have over 350,000 soldiers over there, a number approaching the number in Vietnam in 1967. (This is in comparison to the 20,000 on the day of J.F.K.’s assassination.)
*ZNet | Iraq*
The Blackwater Fiasco*
*by Robert Scheer; Truthdig
September 21, 2007*
Please, please, I tell myself, leave Orwell out of it. Find some
other, fresher way to explain why "Operation Iraqi Freedom" is
dependent upon killer mercenaries. Or why the "democratically
elected government" of "liberated" Iraq does not explicitly have
the legal power to expel Blackwater USA from its land or hold
any of the 50,000 private contractor troops that the U.S.
government has brought to Iraq accountable for their deadly
Were there even the faintest trace of Iraqi independence rising
from the ashes of this failed American imperialist venture,
Blackwater would have to fold its tents and go, if only in the
interest of keeping up appearances. After all, the Iraqi
Interior Ministry claimed that the Blackwater thugs guarding a
U.S. State Department convoy through the streets of Baghdad
fired "randomly at citizens" in a crowded square on Sunday,
killing 11 people and wounding 13 others. So the Iraqi
government has ordered Blackwater to leave the country after
what a government spokesman called a "flagrant assault ... on
But who told those Iraqi officials that they have the power to
control anything regarding the 182,000 privately contracted
personnel working for the U.S. in Iraq? Don't they know about
Order 17, which former American proconsul Paul Bremer put in
place to grant contractors, including his own Blackwater
bodyguards, immunity from Iraqi prosecution? Nothing has
changed since the supposed transfer of power from the Coalition
Provisional Authority, which Bremer once headed, to the Iraqi
government holed up in the Green Zone and guarded by Blackwater
and other "private" soldiers.
They are "private" in the same fictional sense that our
uniformed military is a "volunteer" force, since both are lured
by the dollars offered by the same paymaster, the U.S.
government. Contractors earn substantially more, despite
$20,000 to $150,000 signing bonuses and an all-time-high average
annual cost of $100,000 per person for the uniformed military.
All of this was designed by the neocon hawks in the Pentagon to
pursue their dreams of empire while avoiding a conscripted army,
which would have millions howling in the street by now in protest.
Instead, we have checkbook imperialism. The U.S. government
purchases whatever army it needs, which has led to the
dependence upon private contract firms like Blackwater USA, with
its $300-million-plus contract to protect U.S. State Department
personnel in Iraq. That is why the latest Blackwater incident,
which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki branded a "crime," is so
difficult to deal with. Iraqis are clearly demanding to rid
their country of Blackwater and other contractors, and on
Tuesday the Iraqi government said it would be scrutinizing the
status of all private security firms working in the country.
But the White House hopes the outrage will once again blow over.
As the Associated Press reported on Monday: "The U.S. clearly
hoped the Iraqis would be satisfied with an investigation, a
finding of responsibility and compensation to the victim's
families-and not insist on expelling a company that the
Americans cannot operate here without." Or, as Ambassador Ryan
Crocker testified to the U.S. Senate last week: "There is simply
no way at all that the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic
Security could ever have enough full-time personnel to staff the
security function in Iraq. There is no alternative except
Consider the irony of that last statement-that the U.S.
experiment in building democracy in Iraq is dependent upon the
same garrisons of foreign mercenaries that drove the founders of
our own country to launch the American Revolution. As George
Washington warned in his farewell address, once the American
government enters into these "foreign entanglements," we lose
the Republic, because public accountability is sacrificed to the
necessities of war for empire.
Despite the fact that Blackwater USA gets almost all of its
revenue from the U.S. government-much of it in no- bid contracts
aided, no doubt, by the lavish contributions to the Republican
Party made by company founder Erik Prince and his billionaire
parents-its operations remain largely beyond public scrutiny.
Blackwater and others in this international security racket
operate as independent states of their own, subject neither to
the rules of Iraq nor the ones that the U.S. government applies
to its own uniformed forces. "We are not simply a 'private
security company,' " Blackwater boasts on its corporate website.
"We are a professional military, law enforcement, security,
peacekeeping, and stability operations firm. ... We have become
the most responsive, cost-effective means of affecting the
strategic balance in support of security and peace, and freedom
and democracy everywhere."
Yeah, so who elected you guys to run the world?
*ZNet | Iraq*
*Bush's Fake Sheik Whacked*
*by Greg Palast; Information Clearing House
September 21, 2007*
Did you see George all choked up? In his surreal TV talk on
Thursday, he got all emotional over the killing by Al Qaeda of
Sheik Abu Risha, the leader of the new Sunni alliance with the
US against the insurgents in Anbar Province, Iraq.
Bush shook Abu Risha's hand two weeks ago for the cameras. Bush
can shake his hand again, but not the rest of him: Abu Risha was
blown away just hours before Bush was to go on the air to praise
his new friend.
Here's what you need to know that NPR won't tell you.
1. Sheik Abu Risha wasn't a sheik.
2. He wasn't killed by Al Qaeda.
3. The new alliance with former insurgents in Anbar is as fake
as the sheik - and a murderous deceit.
How do I know this? You can see the film - of "Sheik" Abu Risha,
of the guys who likely whacked him and of their other
Just in case you think I've lost my mind and put my butt in
insane danger to get this footage, don't worry. I was safe and
dry in Budapest. It was my brilliant new cameraman, Rick Rowley,
who went to Iraq to get the story on his own.
Rick's "the future of TV news," says BBC. He's also completely
out of control. Despite our pleas, Rick and his partner Dave
Enders went to Anbar and filmed where no cameraman had dared tread.
Why was "sheik" Abu Risha so important? As the New York Times
put it this morning, "Abu Risha had become a charismatic symbol
of the security gains in Sunni areas that have become a
cornerstone of American plans to keep large numbers of troops in
Iraq though much of next year."
In other words, Abu Risha was the PR hook used to sell the
"success" of the surge.
The sheik wasn't a sheik. He was a fake. While proclaiming to
Rick that he was "the leader of all the Iraqi tribes," Abu lead
no one. But for a reported sum in the millions in cash for
so-called, "reconstruction contracts," Abu Risha was willing to
say he was Napoleon and Julius Caesar and do the hand-shakie
thing with Bush on camera.
Notably, Rowley and his camera caught up with Abu Risha on his
way to a "business trip" to Dubai, money laundering capital of
the Middle East.
There are some real sheiks in Anbar, like Ali Hathem of the
dominant Dulaimi tribe, who told Rick Abu Risha was a con man.
Where was his tribe, this tribal leader? "The Americans like to
create characters like Disney cartoon heros." Then Ali Hathem
added, "Abu Risha is no longer welcome" in Anbar.
"Not welcome" from a sheik in Anbar is roughly the same as a
kiss on both cheeks from the capo di capi. Within days, when Abu
Risha returned from Dubai to Dulaimi turf in Ramadi, Bush's
hand-sheik was whacked.
On Thursday, Bush said Abu Risha was killed, "fighting Al Qaeda"
- and the White House issued a statement that the sheik was
"killed by al Qaeda."
There ain't no Easter Bunny and "Al Qaeda" ain't in Iraq, Mr.
Bush. It was very cute, on the week of the September 11
memorials, to tie the death of your Anbar toy-boy to bin Laden's
Saudi hijackers. But it's a lie. Yes, there is a group of
berserkers who call themselves "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia." But
they have as much to do with the real Qaeda of bin Laden as a
Rolling Stones "tribute" band has to do with Mick Jagger.
Who got Abu Risha? Nothing - NOTHING - moves in Ramadi without
the approval of the REAL tribal sheiks. They were
none-too-happy, as Hathem noted, about the millions the US
handed to Risha. The sheiks either ordered the hit - or simply
gave the bomber free passage to do the deed.
So who are these guys, the sheiks who lead the Sunni tribes of
Anbar - the potentates of the Tamimi, Fallaji, Obeidi, Zobal and
Jumaili tribes? Think of them as the Sopranos of Arabia. They
are also members of the so-called "Awakening Council" - getting
their slice of the millions handed out - which they had no
interest in sharing with Risha.
But creepy and deadly or not, these capi of the desert were
effective in eliminating "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia." Indeed, as
US military so proudly pointed out to Rick, the moment the
sheiks declared their opposition to Al Qaeda - i.e. got the
payments from the US taxpayers - Al Qaeda instantly diappeared.
This miraculous military change, where the enemy just
evaporates, has one explanation: the sheiks ARE al Qaeda in
Mesopotamia. Just like the Sopranos extract "protection"
payments from New Jersey businesses, the mobsters of Anbar
joined our side when we laid down the loot.
What's wrong with that? After all, I'd rather send a check than
send our kids from Columbus to fight them.
But there's something deeply, horribly wrong with dealing with
these killers. They still kill. With new US protection, weapons
and cash, they have turned on the Shia of Anbar. Fifteen
thousand Shia families from a single district were forced at
gunpoint to leave Anbar. Those moving too slowly were shot. Kids
and moms too.
Do the Americans know about the ethnic cleansing of Anbar by our
erstwhile "allies"? Rick's film shows US commanders placing
their headquarters in the homes abandoned by terrorized Shia.
Rick's craziest move was to go and find these Shia refugees from
Anbar. They were dumped, over a hundred thousand of them, in a
cinder block slum with no running water in Baghdad. They are
under the "protection" of the Mahdi Army, another group of
cutthroats. But at least these are Shia cutthroats.
So the great "success" of the surge is our arming and providing
cover for ethnic cleansing in Anbar. Nice, Mr. Bush. And with
the US press "embedded," we won't get the real story. Even
Democrats are buying into the Anbar "awakening" fairy tale.
An Iraqi government official frets that giving guns and cover to
the Anbar gang is like adopting a baby crocodile. "A crocodile
is not a pet," he told Rick. It will soon grow to devour you.
But what could the puppet do but complain about his strings?
This Iraqi got it right: the surge is a crock.
Greg Palast is the author of "Armed Madhouse: from Baghdad to
New Orleans - Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House
Gone Wild." See Palast's reports for BBC Television's Newsnight,
now filmed by Rick Rowley and partners, at www.GregPalast.com
On his departure from Iraq, Al Jazeera's English language
network agreed to broadcast the Rowley/Enders film. I urge you
to see it: click here: http://tinyurl.com/377bx2
Palast will update the report today on Air America's Randi
P.S.: I only added 'nude' just to get some hits. :)