The Iraq genocide

Barry Lando, at one time an investigative producer for 60 Minutes, made a succinct yet indirect case for identifying America’s efforts in Iraq as a genocide. About the United States’ post-9.11 war Lando wrote the following: “The military onslaught and the American rule that immediately followed, destroyed not just the people and infrastructure of Iraq, but the very fiber of the nation.”

Why genocide? When one couples the invasion and occupation with American long-term support for Saddam Hussein, with George H.W. Bush‘s inciting a rebellion in Iraq which he later would not support, with America’s attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure during and after the Gulf War, with the murderous sanctions regime of the 1990s, the United States has directly or indirectly killed or displaced millions of Iraqis. It has also provoked the peoples of Iraq to take up arms and use them in the struggle for power and advantage in their country. The United States destroyed a nation. This, indeed, is a genocide.

Recommended: TKO by the Technocrats

Jeffrey St. Clair nails the significance of Obama’s 2012 victory.

I got a letter from Bill Clinton!

The text:

I hope you’ll pay attention, Stephen.

We’re facing a big FEC fundraising deadline — after this, there’s only one more before Election Day.

Here’s why that matters: Your donation will go further now than it will next week. That’s because it will immediately be put to use — if your $5 (for example) goes toward hiring an organizer in Akron, Ohio, she’ll have more time to do her job and reach more voters. And that’s how elections are won.

I hope you’ll donate $5 or more before the September fundraising deadline:

Thanks for everything you do.

Bill Clinton

P.S. — If you donate $5 or whatever you can today, you and a guest will be automatically entered to fly out to meet President Obama and me on the campaign trail.

Well, Bill, I gave your letter— Thank you so much! — my undivided attention. The first thing I noticed while I read it is a slight of hand trick which suggests that money donated after the September deadline passes will not be put to immediate use. Are we to believe that funds received after the deadline will not be spent until a post-election period? That would be silly, and I do not believe it to be true. Or, are we to believe that money spent next week is not money spent immediately? That too is sill.

So, I believe you lied to me.

I must say I am also surprised that you thanked me for everything I do since a part of what I do is to call for your arrest, trial and conviction for committing crimes of war and crimes against humanity. Why would you want to thank me for that?

Benjamin Barber endorses the Occupy Movement

The Occupy Movement realizes an inclusive form of democracy, according to Barber.

To understand what’s going on, look at what OWS is, not what it does. Start by taking seriously the ubiquitous signs asking “What does democracy look like?” and answering “WE are what democracy looks like!” Look at the process, which is a bold attempt to embody a “horizontal” paradigm of participatory engagement as an alternative to “vertical” big league moneyball democracy.

It is worth mentioning that Barber was an adviser to Bill Clinton and Howard Dean as well as a Barak Obama supporter (e.g. this and this).

Quote of the day

Alex Gourevitch weighs in on the recently ‘concluded’ Debt Debate as well as the political party he believes bears the greatest share of the responsibility for the debacle:

Readers know the details: $1 trillion cuts, $1.5 more through a supercommittee with a trigger if they can’t agree, and the further possibility, by the end of 2012, that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy sunset. Major spending cuts just as GDP growth was revised down for the past three years, and a double dip recession becomes an increasing possibility. In fact, stimulus money is just about dried up and, as we noted in a previous post, was considerably counterbalanced by contraction at the state-level. This plan looks less like a resolution to economic problems and more like a continuation of the trend of redistributing resources upwards: cuts in social spending (yes yes, some are protected, but not all, and it’s always revisable…) and preservation of tax cuts. There is a lot to say here, and we will try to do it succinctly, but to put the conclusion up front: this is not just a problem of a weak, neoliberal President and wacky-tacky right-wing, it’s also the product of decades of Democratic Party tactics and ideology. And more broadly, signals a deep, and not just American, problem facing left-wing thinking — this is an international, not just national story.

Richard Nixon declared his commitment to Keynesianism and met with Mao; Ronald Reagan signed tax increases and concluded a deal with Gorbachev; Bill Clinton called himself an Eisenhower Republican and all but destroyed America’s anemic welfare state a few years later. All three affirmed the core and dominant political sensibility of their moment even though they may have believed they were rebels of a sort. Barack Obama has merely mimicked their example.

Can anyone, Obama included, be a true centrist if the left lacks a project, a party and a set of movements able to promote both?

What’s wrong with this thought?

E.J. Dionne, while discussing the Wisconsin conflict, asserted that:

It’s said that this fight is all about partisanship — and it’s true that Walker’s proposal is tougher on the most Democratic-leaning public-employee unions than on the ones more sympathetic to Republicans.

But this goes beyond partisanship. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which swept away decades of restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections, has already tilted the political playing field toward the country’s most formidable business interests. Eviscerating the power of the unions would make Republicans and Democrats alike more dependent than ever on rich and powerful interests and undercut the countervailing strength of working people who, as those Kohler workers know, already have enough problems.

Even critics of public-employee unions should be able to recognize a power grab when they see one.

The key problem here, as I see it, is one of timing. Labor in the United States today hardly stands as a countervailing power to the power available to American capital and its political allies. Union membership as of 1.2011 amounts to 11.9% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 6.9% of private sector workers belong to a union while a mere 36.2% of America’s public sector workers belong to a union. Simply put, a fraction of America’s economic and political elite had already broken the union movement before Scott Walker put his name on the 2010 Wisconsin ballot. It used the Stagflation Crisis of the 1970-80s as a pretext on which to make a public assault on America’s unions. The AFL-CIO’s 1981 Solidarity March failed to intimidate the Reagan faction of the GOP or to embolden the remnants of the New Deal Coalition who cared about the fate of America’s working class. And it is because organized labor lacked the power to defeat the Reaganite onslaught of the 1980s that it ceased to provide a base from which sympathetic Democrats could contest the rightward drift of the American political elite.

The Democratic Party already depends upon and prefers the help it gets from big capital. Organized labor may have a seat at the big table, but it literally pays dearly for the meager results it gets for its money. One need only to consider the fact that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama supported the horrible Blanche Lincoln in the 2010 Arkansas primary, and gave her this support even though a Lincoln nomination would only produce a defeat in November. Moreover, Obama’s election along with his very disappointing tenure as President supports nothing else but the conclusion that the leaders of the Democratic Party belong to the FIRE sector of the economy. In fact, one can measure Obama’s labor sympathies by the fight he made in support of the Employee Free Choice Act while President.

As for my take on Wisconsin: What we are seeing in Madison today is not organized labor fighting a state politician and his party in defense of the right of some workers to collectively bargain with the State of Wisconsin. Nor, for that matter, is the conflict a local instance of the national Democrats making a stand on behalf of its base. What we are seeing instead is a troubled part of American society defending itself against the predatory practices of a social and political system dominated by big capital, its money and its political allies. What about the legacy parties in Washington? As we know, they are already spoken for by their well-heeled friends. At least some Democratic Senators of the Wisconsin Senate had the nerve to flee to Illinois, thus saving the Party from colluding one more with the Republicans. That is far more than one could reasonably expect from the national Democrats.

Cross-posted at FireDogLake

Will the government shut down in March?

It seems like it will, according to David Dayen:

The Senate is now off for a week. When they come back it’ll be February 28. The continuing resolution to fund the government expires on March 4. So naturally, the Senate will next take up — a patent reform bill. And in the meantime, Reid is raising the pressure on John Boehner’s statement yesterday that he would not go for a short-term continuing resolution, which means a government shutdown, essentially.

Dayen continues:

As for what will happen in the next two weeks, it’s completely unclear. Boehner has said there will be no short-term CR; he may offer something with across-the-board cuts or some one-off cuts to cherished accounts. Reid could just offer a short-term CR after he gets the bill that will get a final vote today Saturday. Senate Republicans would then have to decide whether to block it, putting them on the hook for the government shutdown. There’s a ton of brinksmanship going on.

Obviously, any shutting of the government would be extremely irresponsible. Those individuals most dependent on the Federal government would take the hardest blow. It has happened before, though, with the obvious forerunner being the 1995 budget battle between President Clinton and the Contract with America Congressional class. The nadir of that episode arrived when House Speaker Newt Gingrich complained about being assigned a seat in the rear of Air Force One, a complaint that allegedly motivated his hardline position in the budget fight. Gingrich’s outburst and his leadership in general destroyed his Congressional career and the budget battle he led contributed into Clinton’s 1996 reelection.

But the fact that a budget battle between a divided Federal government once produced a political catastrophe for the Republicans has not deterred the current House from adopting the same tactic. Nor has the harm to the “lesser people” caused by their politicking. Although they are the minority party, the Republicans always govern as though they were a strong majority party that had overwhelming popular support. They govern in this way because of their hatred of these “lesser people” and because the Democratic Party lacks the kind of principles needed to oppose the Republican Party.