Saturday, April 10, 2010

Presidential Punk Ass




These days puppets pull the strings




On the most recent Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, Peace Mom Cindy spoke with her friends Elaine Brower, Jon Gold and Matthis Chiroux about how the four of them were arrested in DC March 20th protesting the illegal wars.
Elaine Brower: One of the problems we're up against with this movement is that they're co-opted by the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party does not want their base to mobilize. So what we saw with the election to Obama and prior to that was the complete demobilization --if there was any anti-war movement before that -- it just continued to disappear. And now I'm not sure who's left out there that really wants to make this change but whoever it is, that's what they're going to have to do and it's not an easy step. It's a very difficult step to take -- difficult for me, difficult for you. We have families, we have lives. But we don't want to see this empire terrorize any more people around the globe.
Senator Tom Harkin voted for the Iraq War by voting, in 2002, to authorize force. Tom Alex (Des Moinses Register -- link has text and video) reports that a 12-year-old was arrested as Harkin's office in Des Moines, Frankie Hughes. Her 'crime'? The 12-year-old refused to leave the office. The 12-year-old girl was a 'threat' to Senator Tom Harkin and his staff. The full grown senator and his full grown staff were a-scared of a 12-year-old girl. Frankie Hughes was there "sitting in a chair and refusing to leave" to protest the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The 12-year-old girl sitting in a chair, during business hours, was a 'threat' -- apparently a clear and present danger. On top of that, Alex reports, the day after the arrest, police showed up to serve Frankie's mother Renee Espeland with a misdemeanor charge of "contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
Cindy Sheehan: Well one of my friends last night made an interesting observation. He said that the anti-war movement killed itself by supporting Barack Obama.
Elaine Brower: Yeah, that's-that's true. But I always think that from the beginning the anti-war movement was factionalized in a way that they were somehow supporting the Democrats. Like in 2006 we saw a lot of supposed anti-war groups going out heavily to tell people to vote for the Democrats. So I think it started long before Obama. And then with [George W.] Bush sort of as our -- the-the person that we really love to hate, he was still in power, so that gave the anti-war groups someone to challenge. But they would never challenge the Democrats in office like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and all the rest of them who really are, also, on the side of the US empire. And they have, you know, their hands in the pocket of the capitalist system. They never went against that and they allowed them to just keep funding the war and getting away with it. And then here comes Obama and further demobalizes the anti-war movement because most of them are Democrats. What we have to do is get away from the mentality that the Democrats are the saviors of us. We are the saviors.
Today, from an undisclosed location in DC, Tom Harkin, hiding out from 12-year-old girls whom he pictures seizing the motherland and imposing Twilight viewing mandates on all citizens, had the nerve to say of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens: "As one of our country's longest serving Justices, he has demonstrated an unabiding commitment to the rule of law and critical rights and liberties." What about Frankie's liberties, Harkin? What about her right to peacefully protest? Drake law professor Sally Frank told Tom Alex, "I think they are trying to put a scare into the peace movement." A 12-year-old, peacefully protesting, is arrested in Harkin's office (and her mother later charged) and he has the nerve, the same week, to speechify about "unabiding commitment to the rule of law and critical rights and liberties"?
Cindy Sheehan: Well, you know, I hate to use infantile terminology, but we're the boss of them, they're not the boss of us.
In December 2005, elections were held and it was approximately 4 months later before a prime minister was selected: Nouri al-Maliki. However, it wouldn't have taken that long if the US government had not rejected the first choice -- the choice of Iraq's elected representatives: Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Currently, four months is the standard because that's the only time the process has been implemented. Whether it will take four months this go round or less or more is unknown.

As noted last night, Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the choice of al-Sadr supporters. Last Friday and Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr held a vote, open to all, to determine whom al-Sadr's bloc should support and the results were announced this week: al-Jaafari swept past everyone. (There were five candidates listed on the ballot -- included Allawi and al-Maliki -- and a sixth space for write-ins.) As pointed out last night, the announced decision to support al-Jaafari sends a message:

It may be a gambit on the part of al-Sadr, it may be for real. But it does send the message to Iraqis. That message is not, "Look at me." That message is: "The occupiers denied us al-Jafaari in 2006. We're still fighting for him, we're still fighting the occupation and we're still standing."

Khaled Farhan, Waleed Ibrahim, Ian Simpson and Elizabeth Fullerton (Reuters) reported this morning, that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers which was read today, the seventh anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to foreign forces, and warned that "the occupation and its advocates will stay in Iraq without fear [. . .] You, the Sunnis of Iraq, joined hands with the Shi'ites to lierate our country. Do not let the (U.S.) occupation or any unjust law made by it deter you from doing that." The statement was read at a demonstration of supporters (it was not read by Moqtada al-Sadr who was not present) and, AFP reports, was followed by a march where "Iraqi national flags [were held] aloft" and supporters shouted, "Yes, yes, Iraq, no, no occupation." Alsumaria TV notes "tens of thousands" marched in Najaf.
Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio) interviewed Dahr Jamail this week. They covered a number of topics and we'll note this section regarding the elections and the election aftermath:
Scott Horton: But as far as the narrative of: "Look an election! Isn't that great! The democratic process! Better than Saddam Hussein! He used to re-elect himself with 99%!" And, you know, here in this case, it looks like the current prime minister didn't even try or wasn't able to rig the election for himself effectively and all that. But at the same time, it seems like, the neocons are counting on the ignorance of the American people and because Chris Matthews only talks about what Republicans and Democrats say on Capitol Hill to each other, all day, for about two and a half hours, twice a day, or whatever, the American people don't really know anything about Iraq -- who's in power there, which different factions are doing this, that or the other thing. There might be a little bit of a mention of something but never any real context and so I remember back in 2005 when they did the election, that really -- with the El Salvador option -- helped precipitate the civil war by turning the whole country over to the Supreme Islamic Council and Moqtada al-Sadr basically and the Iraqi National Alliance. Even Jon Stewart was going, "Wow! Maybe George W. Bush was right. Look at this woman with purple ink on her finger. Maybe Iraq is a democracy now." Well, then another few 100,000 people got killed after that. Now we have another one of these. And it turns out Moqtada al-Sadr is the kingmaker and he's sitting in Tehran right now trying to figure out whether he wants to throw his weigh towards CIA agent-murderer [Ayad] Allawi or Revolutionary Guard Agent-murderer [Nouri al-] Maliki. And this is what the neocons and Newsweek are telling the American people, "Look! They've got ink on their fingers!" You don't have a narrative, you don't know who's who, you don't know who's winning or if one group takes power over this group what's that like, what consequences that's likely to have. None of this context is provided. "But, look, a woman with purple ink. We're actually, we're doing okay here, folks." That's why it works. Because the rest of the time they won't tell us about Iraq at all. Then when they say anything, they go, "Hey, look, a still shot. Make up your own 10,000 words.
Dahr Jamail: Well that's exactly right, Scott. And I think that's a really good description and analysis of how this has been perpetuated from the beginning where we have a corporate media that relies on the ignorance and-and a US government that relies on the ignorance of the American public. And, of course, the corporate media has been instrumental in ensuring that ignorance. I mean, we can go back to before the invasion took place and basically what people got on TV was a graphic of Saddam Hussein's head with a bulls eye on it. Or cross hairs. This kind of thing. You know: "This is all you need to know. You don't need to know that the CIA backed him in a coup that put him in a position of power in 1968. You don't need to know the US government supported him through his worst atrocities. You don't need to know that the US supported both Iraq and Iran during that brutal eight-year war that killed over a million people. You don't need to know these things. You don't need to know that we supported the twelve-and-a-half years of genocidal sanctions, that, oh yeah, according to Madeline Albright and the UN, killed over half-a-million Iraqi children. You don't need to know these things. You just need to know this is the bad guy and we're going to kill him and you're going to be safe and you can go shopping in that safety and rest assured that everything is just fine." And it's the same with these elections. You don't need to know that Maliki, even before the election results were released, when it became clear to him that he was not going to get the plurality, that he basically went to the Supreme Court in Iraq -- this is going to sound a little familiar to folks -- so he goes to the Supreme Court and basically has them change the rules of the game so that instead of whoever gets the plurality during the election can start forming their own government, instead he now has until June when the Parliament reconvenes to basically take out as many of Allawi's elected ministers of Parliament as possible. Because, basically, the last man standing in June when Parliament reconvenes, whoever has the most MPs, that is who is going to get to form the new cabinet. So conveniently Maliki's basically given himself two months to go out and hit as many of Allawi's people as possible. And that's exactly what he's done. So far, he's taken two of them into custody, charging them with terrorism. You know, everything's terrorism now, so he's charging them with terrorism. And one person is where abouts unknown. And then another MP in Allawi's list is in hiding. So already, he's at least made it even Steven and probably already taken the lead. And, of course, we have the Sadr wildcard which is a bit of another story but you described it well and all that I just described is-is against the backdrop of the context that both of these guys are US stooges and perhaps this is why Newsweek declares it a resounding success -- aside from just the propaganda value. But, "Hey, it's a resounding success because we have Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as the two leading candidates in this election and, oh, guess what? The US created both these guys, put both these guys in the positions of power that they're in and they wouldn't exist without the US occupation in that country. And guess what? One of them's going to win, so the US is going to win either way." And maybe that's why Newsweek was so triumphant about their "Mission Accomplished" cover? And, oh yeah, it took a little longer because we didn't have that kind of a rigged deck in the last election but in this one, by golly, we do." But then, of course, things are a bit more complicated now because, as you said, we have Sadr who has had this -- I think it was a quite astute political move. He had a referendum vote, sort of an informal, unofficial vote among his followers and actually the vast majority of the people didn't choose Allawi or Malilki. They chose Ibrahim al-Jaafari who is the guy who was actually chosen as the first prime minister in Iraq in the wake of the 2005 elections --
Scott Horton: Now he's also a Dawa Party guy -- like Maliki -- but a different faction of Dawa they say, right?
Dahr Jamail: That's true and he is much less affiliated with the Americans and he's anti-occuption and that's exactly why the US decided to give him the boot and replace him with Maliki back in April of 2006. And so this is an interesting thing to see how this is going to play out. And, at the end of the day, shelve everything I just said for a moment, and think about the fact that, as usual as we've gone through this occupation, it's the Iraqi people paying the price for all of this nonsense, all of this US meddling, all of this US orchestrating, all of this propaganda. What is consistently lost in the mix is that even today, another day of 50 more Iraqis killed in a series of massive bombings across the capital city and that's just Baghdad. What I'm talking about? The rest of the country. We are back up to levels of violence and death on a daily basis starting about a week ago in Iraq that are comprable to the blood letting of 2006, 2007.
Scott Horton: Yeah and maybe now that we're in Democratic times, Darh, conservatives can maybe understand. It's no different than fighting over the school board. Is it going to be controlled by conservative Christians or is it going to be controled by secular humanists? And they fight like mad over who's going to control the school board. Well when you create a monopoly on power and then you have, you know, create a contest over who's going to hold that power -- well what do you think's going to happen? Especially after you decapitate the government, abolish the army and the party in power and set up a free for all here.

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