Empire Burlesque
Written on the Body: The Progressive Torture of Bradley Manning
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Monday, 27 December 2010 23:17

Tonight, in the tenth year of the 21st century, the government of the United States is torturing a young man -- one of its own soldiers -- whom it has incarcerated but not indicted. He has been held in solitary confinement for months on end, subjected to techniques of sleep deprivation taken from the Soviet gulag, denied almost all human contact except from interrogators, constantly harassed by guards to whom he must answer every few minutes -- all in an attempt to break his mind, destroy his will, degrade his humanity and force him to "confess" to a broader "conspiracy" against state power.

His name is Bradley Manning. He is 23 years old. The "crime" he is accused of committing is releasing video evidence of an American atrocity committed years ago in Iraq: the murder of Iraqi civilians by helicopter gunships. Under the American system of jurisprudence, of course, he is considered innocent until proven guilty of this heinous 'crime' of truth-telling. He has not been tried or convicted of this charge, or any other crime.

Yet tonight, in the tenth year of the 21st century, in the United States of America, under the leadership of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama, 23-year-old Bradley Manning is being subjected to same tortures routinely inflicted on other unindicted, untried captives of the militarist state.

Journalist Andy Worthington, who has been one of the most thorough and assiduous chroniclers of the modern American gulag, has noted the parallels between the treatment imposed on Manning and that doled out to earlier prisoners of the bizarre, lawless limbo concocted by the American war machine for those who threaten -- or are perceived to threaten -- its ever-expanding, ever-more corrupt operations around the world. Worthington states that the conditions of Manning's imprisonment

bear a marked and chilling resemblance to the conditions in which a handful of US citizens and residents were held as “enemy combatants” under the Bush administration. The key elements here are the elements of profound isolation and suffering ... not just the solitary confinement, with no other human being for company, but also the refusal to allow Manning to have a pillow, sheets, or any access to the outside world through the reporting of current affairs.

It is these factors that mark out his conditions of detention as sharing some key elements with the conditions endured by the three “enemy combatants” held on the US mainland under the Bush administration — the US citizens Yasser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, and the US legal resident Ali al-Marri.

...

al-Marri, along with two American citizens also held as “enemy combatants” — Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla — was subjected to the same “Standard Operating Procedure” that was applied to prisoners at Guantánamo during its most brutal phase, from mid-2002 to mid-2004. This involved the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including prolonged isolation, painful stress positions, exposure to extreme temperature, sleep deprivation, extreme sensory deprivation, and threats of violence and death.

...

There is, at present, no suggestion that Bradley Manning has been subjected to a wide range of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but prolonged isolation is confirmed, and depriving him of a pillow, sheets, or any access to the outside world through the reporting of current affairs are all elements of discomfort and further isolation that were key to the program of belittling and punishing “enemy combatants,” and, crucially, “softening them up” or “breaking” them for interrogation. It is, sadly, all too easy to imagine that other techniques designed to disorientate Manning and to further erode his will — involving elements of sleep deprivation, threats and sensory deprivation — could also be applied, or are, perhaps, already being applied, especially if, as has been suggested by the Independent, the authorities are hoping to cut a plea deal with him, reducing a 52-year sentence in exchange for a confession that Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, whom the US is seeking to extradite to the US, was not just a passive recipient of the information leaked by Manning, but was instead a conspirator.

As Glenn Greenwald and others have documented, the known treatment being meted out to Bradley Manning is itself a profound form of torture. Indeed, isolation, sleep deprivation, incessant harassment and constant interrogation were primary methods of the torturers in the Soviet gulag, who in many cases did not resort to more "enhanced" techniques unless the pressure was on from above to produce large numbers of "convictions" and "evidence" of conspiracies in a hurry. These techniques -- the same techniques now used under the command of the Peace Laureate -- were considered highly effective and severely punishing tortures in their own right. They are now at the center of the American gulag's treatment of its captives.And, as Worthington ominously notes, we have no way of knowing at this moment whether "enhanced" techniques are being used on Manning as well.

I am running out of words to describe the depths we are sinking into. I am running out of ways to try to shake people from their stupor and shock them into an awareness of the monstrous evil that is rising all around them. Even those who proclaim themselves the progressive friends of all humankind spend most of their time and energy wringing their hands over the political tea leaves, parsing the strategy and tactics of the partisan squabbles between the two scarcely-distinguishable factions of the militarist establishment. And while they are sometimes bold enough to criticize this or that element of the Peace Laureate's administration, they still fret and fight and pray to keep that administration in power.

But tonight that very administration is torturing a young man -- torturing him -- for telling the truth about the crimes being committed by the machinery of evil that their standard-bearer, the Peace Laureate, now proudly directs. If you support this administration, then you support the torture of Bradley Manning. You are working to guarantee that such tortures, and worse, are inflicted on more and more truth-tellers, more and more people whose consciences have been jolted to the core by the abominations they have witnessed or learned about from others.

The militarist, corporatist, liberty-stripping evil that our earnest lovers of humanity fear will come to pass if those evil Republicans come to power is already here, it is happening before their very eyes. "Oh, that Glenn Beck, how terrible he is!" Yes, he is terrible, but I tell you this: Glenn Beck hasn't tortured anyone. Glenn Beck hasn't killed hundreds of defenseless innocent civilians, men, women and children murdered without any warning by robot drones in an undeclared war on an allied nation. Glenn Beck hasn't "surged" an endless, pointless, murderous, money-making war of domination against a broken land and its terrorized people. Glenn Beck is not going to court to defend torturers. Glenn Beck is not proclaiming he has the arbitrary, unchallengeable power to assassinate anyone on earth whenever he feels like it.

But the Peace Laureate has done all these things. He is doing all these things, and more. No doubt Glenn Beck -- and all the other greasy-pole climbers seeking wealth and domination in our degraded society -- would like to do these things too. But those with their eyes fixed on the potential or fantasized future evil of their partisan opponents are blind to the fact that their own faction is committing gross evils right here and now. Barack Obama is entrenching the machinery of evil deeper and deeper into the structures of government and society; he is strengthening the foundations of evil that others will build upon, just as he is building upon the wars and gulags and corporate whoredom of his predecessor. Progressives who support Obama -- who support this entrenching process -- are in fact guaranteeing that their dystopian nightmares of the future will come true. They are helping Obama clear the path for an even rougher, more merciless beast now slouching toward Washington to be born.

As I said, words are beginning to fail me. And in any case, almost no one is reading the words on this site. [Most of the traffic is drawn by the magnificent -- and shattering -- collection of Iraq War photos compiled by the webmaster, Rich Kastelein.] So let me end with the words of someone else: the incomparable Arthur Silber, whose mighty heart and incisive mind have blazed with light through many dark years:

I repeat once more: these horrors are now what the United States stands for. Thus, for every adult American, the question is not, "Why do you obey?" but:

Why do you support?

Or will you refuse to give your support? Will you say, "No"? These are the paramount questions at this moment in history, and in the life of the United States. We all must answer them. Our honor, our humanity, and our souls lie in the balance.

UPDATE: After putting this post together, I ran across the latest essay by Chris Hedges at Truthdig. Hedges, like Silber, is one of the very few who have the courage to walk the full walk and live fully by their convictions, despite the cost. Hedges was recently arrested outside the White House of the Peace Laureate, one of many protestors hauled off for speaking the truth about the Laureate's wars in a manner deemed unseemly in our great democracy.

His new piece is an eloquent description of how the nightmare dystopia noted above is already coming into being, a horrible mash-up of Huxley's "Brave New World" and Orwell's "1984." You should read the whole thing, but here are a few excerpts, beginning with his mention of the Bradley Manning case:

...The psychological torture of Pvt. Bradley Manning—who has now been imprisoned for seven months without being convicted of any crime—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of “1984.” Manning is being held as a “maximum custody detainee” in the brig at Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia. He spends 23 of every 24 hours alone. He is denied exercise. He cannot have a pillow or sheets for his bed. Army doctors have been plying him with antidepressants. The cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo have been replaced with refined Orwellian techniques, largely developed by government psychologists, to turn dissidents like Manning into vegetables. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. Now we can all be taken to Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to become compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures” are regularly imposed on our dissidents, including Syed Fahad Hashmi, who was imprisoned under similar conditions for three years before going to trial. The techniques have psychologically maimed thousands of detainees in our black sites around the globe. They are the staple form of control in our maximum security prisons where the corporate state makes war on our most politically astute underclass—African-Americans.

...The public, at some point, will have to face some very unpleasant truths. The good-paying jobs are not coming back. The largest deficits in human history mean that we are trapped in a debt peonage system that will be used by the corporate state to eradicate the last vestiges of social protection for citizens, including Social Security. The state has devolved from a capitalist democracy to neo-feudalism. And when these truths become apparent, anger will replace the corporate-imposed cheerful conformity. The bleakness of our post-industrial pockets, where some 40 million Americans live in a state of poverty and tens of millions in a category called “near poverty,” coupled with the lack of credit to save families from foreclosures, bank repossessions and bankruptcy from medical bills, means that inverted totalitarianism will no longer work.

...

The noose is tightening. The era of amusement is being replaced by the era of repression. Tens of millions of citizens have had their e-mails and phone records turned over to the government. We are the most monitored and spied-on citizenry in human history. Many of us have our daily routine caught on dozens of security cameras. Our proclivities and habits are recorded on the Internet. Our profiles are electronically generated. Our bodies are patted down at airports and filmed by scanners. And public service announcements, car inspection stickers, and public transportation posters constantly urge us to report suspicious activity. The enemy is everywhere.

Hedges also provides a telling passage from Orwell's novel, where the facts of life are explained to Winston Smith:

"We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. ... The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.”

These bedrock truths of our time are now being played out on the body and mind of Bradley Manning. The object of Bradley Manning's torture is not bolstering "national security" or upholding the "rule of law"; the object of his torture is the torture itself: the demonstration of power, the enactment of power, the physical embodiment of power. Power is not a reality until you exercise it -- inflict it -- upon someone else. And that is the essential, the ultimate concern of the militarist empire that rules us today.

*Go here to support Bradley Manning.*

 
Merry Christmas From Where We Are
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 25 December 2010 08:47

 

Some lines, with vaguely seasonal connections:

Presnensky Val
(The Year 1905 Station, Moscow)

I have in mind a silver cross,
Suspended from a slender neck;
Body-warmed through winter cloth,
It whispers on a field of black.                      

*
The monument to failed revolt
Is hung with colored Christmas lights;
The brandished weapons, giant bronze
Absorbed into the festive rites.

But turn the corner, and it’s quiet,
A fever broken, turmoil passed --
A shrouded stillness, like a hand
Laid shyly on a lover’s chest.

Bare trees, gray snow, blue moonlit steam,
Steel rails in stone: I pace a song,
Some half-remembered thing re-grown
In the garden of this silence.             

*
I have in mind a silver cross,
A slender neck, a body’s warmth,
A hand laid shyly on the night,
The mingled accents of our breath.

 

 
Starved of Truth: The Assonance of Atrocity in the Afghan War "Review"
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Friday, 17 December 2010 11:05

History never repeats itself, of course. But human nature being what it is -- and the tropes of power and dominance being what they are -- there is a great deal of assonance in history: near-rhymes, recurring echoes in the present which do not chime exactly with the past but fall closely enough to resonate with meaning.

Reading Timothy Synder's account of the genocidal famine in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s (in his new book, Bloodlands), I ran across the following passage. In it, Snyder describes how Stalin sought to explain away the manifest, catastrophic failure of his policy of forced collectivization, which had led to millions of deaths by starvation:

Stalin had developed an interesting new theory: that resistance to socialism increases as its successes mount, because its foes resist with greater desperation as they contemplate their final defeat. Thus any problem in the Soviet Union could be defined as an example of enemy action, and enemy action could be defined as evidence of progress.


This passage leapt immediately to mind while reading accounts of Barack Obama's vaunted "review" of his ever-intensifying, ever more catastrophic war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The results of this "review" were a foregone conclusion, of course: the President would decide that his policy was the right one and should continue. The only "change" would be a surge in "kinetic activity" along the Pakistan border, with increased drone bombings of Pakistan villages (which have already killed many hundreds of innocent civilians) and more Special Forces operations "along the border" (i.e., inside Pakistani territory). There will also be greatly increased pressure on the Pakistani government to "invade" its own territory and slaughter thousands of its own people in the border regions to relieve the pressure on their American masters in Afghanistan.

In other words, American policy in Afghanistan is failing so badly that Obama is about to engulf a volatile, unstable, nuclear-armed nation in a vast, divisive, violent upheaval led by an utterly corrupt and unpopular government. The result will be the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people, the displacement of millions more -- in a land still reeling from one of the worst natural disasters the world has seen in modern times -- and, of course, the spread of extremism, hatred, instability and chaos.

But for Obama, this highway to hell is actually an indication of "considerable gains toward our military objectives."  The ever-spreading insurgency in Afghanistan, which now controls or has strong footholds even in northern regions which the Taliban never controlled before the war, is not, as you might think, a glaring indication of the catastrophic failure of the militarist agenda; on the contrary, it is, Obama says, a sign of "significant progress." This has been the argument of our bipartisan militarists since the very beginning, in Afghanistan and Iraq: any problems in our violent occupations of these foreign lands is caused by enemy action -- and all enemy actions, including the control of more and more territory, can be defined as evidence of progress. The very success of the enemy, the fierceness of their resistance, is evidence of their desperation, their ultimate and imminent collapse.

Thus Stalin on the deaths of millions of innocent people at the hands of his policies. And thus Obama, and the entire bipartisan political establishment, on the bloodbath in the bloodlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We are speaking of echoes and assonance, of course, not exact parallels. The death tolls in the Af-Pak catastrophe has not reached Stalinist proportions -- yet. But the prospects for the widening war in Pakistan are almost unbearable to contemplate. What might a nuclear-armed state, controlled largely by its military, do in the event an imminent collapse brought on by the launching of a civil war at the behest of a foreign power? What if it decided the only way to bring the nation back together was a war against the hated common enemy in India? We have already been to the brink of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India within the last decade. And even a non-nuclear war between the two would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions.

And that is only one entirely plausible scenario if the Pakistanis knuckle under to the wishes of their imperial patrons -- the "progressive" Peace Laureate and the Bush Family apparatchik he has retained as his warlord -- and launch the all-out assault on their own people that Washington demands. As Hamlet said: It cannot, and it will not, come to good.

Meanwhile, the present reality of the situation is bad enough, and worsening. Even as the Obama Administration was trumpeting its "progress" and "success" in the nine-year war on one the most blasted, broken-down, defenseless places on earth, Patrick Cockburn, on the ground in Afghanistan, was recording the evidence of growing hunger among the "liberated" people, due largely to the utter corruption at the heart of American policy:

But the most extraordinary failure of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan is that the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars has had so little impact on the misery in which 30 million Afghans live.  Since 2001 the US alone has provided $52 billion in aid, two thirds for security and one third for economic, social and political development.

Despite this some nine million Afghans live in absolute poverty while a further five million, considered ‘not poor’, try to survive on $43 a month.“Things look alright to foreigners but in fact people are dying of starvation in Kabul,” says Abdul Qudus, a man with a deeply lined face in his forties, who sells second-hand clothes and shoes on a street corner in the capital. They are little more than rags, lying on display on the half frozen mud.

“I buy and sell clothes for between 10 and 30 Afghanis (two to six cents) and even then there are people who are too poor to buy them, “ says Mr Qudus. “I myself am very poor and sometimes I don’t eat so I can feed my children.” He says he started selling second hand clothes two years ago when he lost his job washing carpets.

US officials admit privately that the torrent of aid money that has poured into Afghanistan has stoked corruption and done ordinary Afghans little good. Aimed at improving economic and social conditions in order to reduce support for the Taliban it is having the reverse effect of destabilizing the country. Afghanistan was identified as the third most corrupt country out of 178 in the world in a report released yesterday by Transparency International.

...The US government policy of providing aid through large American private companies, whose interest lies in making a profit rather than improving the life of Afghans, is proving a failure in Afghanistan as it did previously in Iraq. As winter approaches half of Afghans face the prospect of ‘food insecurity’, or not getting enough to eat in the next three months, according to the US Famine Early Warning System.


This is the reality behind the "considerable progress" proclaimed by Barack Obama  this week -- as willfully blind to the truth in his cozy Oval Office as Stalin in the halls of the Kremlin.

 
"Bethink Yourselves!": An Ancient Voice Raised Against Modern Evil
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Saturday, 18 December 2010 01:03

More than a century ago, an aging man, staring his own death in the face, spoke the truth of our times:

Again war. Again sufferings, necessary to nobody, utterly uncalled for. Again fraud, again the universal stupefaction and brutalization of men.

Men who are separated from each other by thousands of miles ... are seeking out one another, in order to kill, torture, and mutilate each other in the cruelest way possible. What can this be? Is it a dream or a reality? Something is taking place which should not, cannot be; one longs to believe that it is a dream and to wake from it.

But no, it is not a dream, it is a dreadful reality!

...How can so-called enlightened men preach war, support it, participate in it, and worst of all, without suffering the dangers of war themselves, incite others to it, sending their unfortunate defrauded brothers to fight? These so-called enlightened men cannot possibly ignore ... all that has and is being written about the cruelty, futility and senselessness of war. They are regarded as enlightened men precisely because they know all this. The majority of them have themselves written and spoken about it. ... No enlightened man can help knowing that the universal competition in the armament of states must inevitably lead them to endless wars or to a general bankruptcy, or else to both the one and the other. ...

Everyone knows and cannot help but knowing that, above all, war, calling forth the lowest animal passions, deprave and brutalize men. ... All so-called enlightened men know this. Then suddenly war begins and all this is instantly forgotten, and the same men who but yesterday were proving the cruelty, futility, the senselessness of wars, now think, speak and write only about killing as many men as possible, about ruining and destroying the greatest possible amounts of human labor, and about exciting as much as possible the passion of hatred in those peaceful, harmless, industrious men who by their labour feed, clothe, maintain these same pseudo-enlightened men who compel them to commit those dreadful deeds contrary to their conscience, welfare or faith.

Something is taking place incomprehensible and impossible in its cruelty, falsehood and stupidity .... Stupefied by prayers, sermons, exhortations, by processions, pictures and newspapers, the cannon-fodder -- hundreds of thousands of men, uniformly dressed, carrying divers deadly weapons, leaving their parents, wives, children, with hearts of agony but with artificial bravado -- go where they, risking their own lives, will commit the most dreadful act of killing men whom they do not know and who have done them no harm. And they are followed by doctors and nurses who somehow imagine that at home they cannot serve simple peaceful suffering people but can only serve those who are engaged in slaughtering each other. Those who remain at home are gladdened by news of the murder of men, and when they learn that many [enemies] have been killed, they thank someone whom they call God.

All this is not only regarded as the manifestation of elevated feeling, but those who refrain from such manifestations, if they endeavour to disabuse men, are deemed traitors and betrayers, and are in danger of being abused and beaten by a brutalized crowd, which in defense of its insanity and cruelty can possess no other weapon than brute force.

Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, 1904 (trans. by Evgeny Lampert, in
Essays From Tula, Sheppard Press 1948)


Tonight Bradley Manning is being tortured and destroyed in a prison cell because he has been accused of trying to tell the truth about war that all so-called enlightened people know: it is brutalizing, senseless, futile and cruel. He is also being tortured in the hope that he can be used as an instrument to stop Julian Assange from telling the truth about war and the corruptions of power that all so-called enlightened people claim to know.

Meanwhile, the man who last year received the world's most noted accolade the enlightened pursuit of peace is now expanding a senseless, brutal and futile war in one foreign land into another, where he has already killed hundreds of innocent people with cowardly bombs fired at defenseless villages from robot drones controlled by armchair warriors thousands of miles away. Another 54 people died from these assassinations just last night; it is claimed they were "militants," but no names were given, no evidence at all to back up these assertions -- and no real reason at all given as to why these assassinations and escalations must continue, on and on, for years, decades, perhaps generations, we are told. Again, Tolstoy:

Spontaneous feeling tells me that what they are doing should not be, but as the murderer who has begun to assassinate his victim cannot stop, so also ... people now imagine that the fact of the deadly work having been commenced is an unanswerable argument in favour of war. War has been started and therefore it should go on. Thus it seems to simple, benighted, unlearned men acting under the influence of the petty passions and stupefactions to which they have been subjected. In exactly the same way the most educated men of our time argue to prove that man does not possess free will, and that therefore even were he to understand that the work he has commenced is evil he can no longer cease to do it.

So dazed, brutalized men continue their dreadful work.


Do not help them. Do not support them. Do not spend your energy and passion and intellect on earnest analyses of the twists and turns of their political fates. They are doing evil. Do not be part of it. Support instead those who try to speak the truth. Stand with them. It is their fate -- not the fate of the petty, brutal power-seekers -- which will determine the meaning of our times and the future of our species.

*Click here for ways to help support Bradley Manning.* test

 
Death of a Courtier, and Other Vile Follies
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Written by Chris Floyd   
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 21:31

The career of the late imperial courtier par excellence Richard Holbrooke is summed up well here by Diane Johnstone. As she notes:

The Dayton Peace Accords were presented as a heroic victory for peace extracted by the brilliant Holbrooke from a reluctant Milosevic, who had to be "bombed to the negotiating table" by the United States. In reality, the U.S. government was fully aware that Milosevic was eager for peace in Bosnia to free Serbia from crippling economic sanctions. It was the Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic who wanted to keep the war going, with U.S. military help.

In reality, the U.S. bombed the Serbs in order to get Izetbegovic to the negotiating table. And the agreement reached in the autumn of 1995 was not very different from the agreement reached in March 1992 by the three ethnic groups under European Community auspices, which could have prevented the entire civil war, if it had not been sabotaged by Izetbegovic, who withdrew his agreement with the encouragement of the then U.S. ambassador Warren Zimmermann. In short, far from being the great peacemaker in the Balkans, the United States first encouraged the Muslim side to fight for its goal of a centralized Bosnia, and then sponsored a weakened federated Bosnia – after nearly four years of bloodshed which left the populations bereft and embittered.

The real purpose of all this, as Holbrooke made quite clear in To End a War, was to demonstrate that Europeans could not manage their own vital affairs and that the United States remained the "indispensable nation". ... His victory was a defeat for diplomacy. The spectacle of bombing plus Dayton was designed to show that only the threat or application of U.S. military might could end conflicts.


Holbrooke's death this week was capped by sinister, cynical comedy from the White House, which sought to turn his dying refutation of the murderous Af-Pak policy he pushed so assiduously into a bit of manly joshing with doctors before going under the knife. Well, maybe that's how it was; maybe he stayed in character, the eager, hearty, shallow courtier, even as death was staring him in the face. In any case, whether Holbrooke saw the light -- or rather, saw the darkness he had served his whole life -- before he died or not, his demise brings to mind a point we were making here just a few days ago.

***

1. John Caruso is excellent in this piece on how the Republicans are trying to save universal health care. An excerpt:

What I like best about the the health care drama in the US right now is how nearly everyone is fighting on the other side, unwittingly or otherwise.  We've got Democrats working to save Obama's nationalized version of Romneycare, while Republicans are doing everything possible to defeat insurance-purchasing mandates that would give even greater power and wealth to their corporate patrons in the health insurance industry.  I haven't had this much fun (politically, anyway) since the waning days of the Clinton administration, when give-peace-a-chance Republicans were trying to undermine Clinton's determined efforts to kill Yugoslavs and Iraqis, and Democrats and their "progressive" enablers were clamoring for more more more smart bombs.

Will Republicans be able to rescue universal health care in the US from the seemingly mortal blow it took from Obama and the Democrats?  Time will tell.


2. Robert Scheer is excellent in this piece on the true implications of Bill Clinton's recent appearance at the White House: a spectacle that revealed the utter political bankruptcy of the Obama regime; its moral bankruptcy has been evident from the beginning; indeed, from before the beginning. As Scheer puts it: the "sight of Bill Clinton back on the White House podium defending tax cuts for the super-rich was more a sick joke than a serious amplification of economic policy."

3. Speaking of moral bankruptcy, Glenn Greenwald outlines, in copious detail, the torture that Obama is inflicting on Bradley Manning in his endless months of captivity without trial. It is harrowing stuff.

4. Professor Michael Brenner is excellent in this description of the utter sham, the empty suit of clothes who may soon be ruling over us: the murderous Pentagon bureaucrat, David Petraeus.

5. Speaking of utter shams, Patrick Cockburn follows billions of dollars down the war profiteering hole in Afghanistan, where millions face "food insecurity" this winter -- a full nine years after their "liberation."

 
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