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Member since: 2002
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Apparently the rights of two million people in the prison system...

most of them caught up in the drug war for sales and possession offenses...

a disproportionate number of them minorities from a poor background...

or the resulting disenfranchisement of a large proportion of black men through felony convictions...

or the fact that prisons are also labor camps used to suppress all working people's wages...

or that millions of black and latino people are subjected to unreasonable search and seizure...

all of which has the drug war as one of the main pretexts...

matter even less to you.

Your statement is flat-out wrong. If it were merely making the absurd argument that it's all right to imprison people for possessing marijuana long as other peoples' rights (presumably yours?) are protected, that would be bad enough.

However the drug war has millions of victims, corrupts entire societies (especially police forces), forms the basis for enormous money laundering and offshore influence on politics, costs untold billions in state and federal funds, has devastated entire nations (Mexico and Colombia), funds narco-dictatorships and death squads, uses fear just like the "war on terror" to move politics to the right, and was condemned for all this last year by a commission of the UN consisting mostly of liberal and conservative former presidents of many of the most hard-hit countries! Oh yeah, the drug profits made possible by prohibition have also funded covert operations and paramilitaries around the world for decades, from the Kuomintang to the Contras to the Afghan mujahedeen (both when they were US allies and when they were enemies).

It is an epically disastrous and inhumane policy with effects that go beyond the already intolerable injustice of imprisoning people for their personal consumption choices (whether or not these are bad choices).

Sorry LynneSin, you shouldn't narrow this huge issue down to dismissable (if wrong) simplistic talking points.

"Missing Foundation," long defunct band...

but thanks to the symbol, the cult devotion to MF continues among many, most of whom have never even heard the music.

And it's a champagne glass. The symbol means, "The Party's Over." As in the party of the present civilization and empire. Which it is: the party, anyway, not yet the empire. The three sticks and the cross-stick mean, "Stop World War III." And in the late 1980s, they had tagged it around literally every single subway station in the New York system.

I have my opinion, as do you...

Like me and everyone else, you, too, decide what the "right thing" is, all the time.

You can bet that to Gaga or any other professional performer with agents and managers, there is no such thing as just being at a "New Year's celebration" on live national TV. To her, it was a negotiated, booked appearance for the purpose of advancing her career, first and foremost.

I don't really care about it, and as condemnations go, mine in this case is mild. Let her do what she likes. But it's not to her credit, and not very cognizant of our times.

Actually, she is no doubt cognizant of whom she is kissing, and of what he currently stands for to the world: the excuser of Wall Street criminality, the brutalizer of street protest.

If she presents herself as an advocate for the right thing in some cases (as in "Born This Way" then she knows that conferring a kiss on this particular character is also a decision.

The real question that the Ron Paul candidacy poses for Democrats

Why is this racist, knuckle-dragging right-winger with the economic and labor policy of a 19th century robber baron outflanking the Democrats to the left on the essential issues of empire and the drug war?

Why aren't Democrats leading the way toward peace, reducing the gargantuan military budget, and changing the drug policy that destroys so many lives and drives the police state and the prison-industrial complex?

I submit this is why Paul inspires such exceptional rage among the uncritical defenders of Obama and the Democratic establishment. Because beyond these two essential issues (and his opposition to bank bailouts), his racist, right-wing views are indistinguishable from those of any other Republican presidential candidate. But his stands on war and drug policy serve to expose the Democratic establishment's support for continuing the perpetual foreign wars and the irrational war on (some) drugs.

Excellent summation, Kentuck:

"Making these observations is not support, it should shame the rest of the field in these areas..."

Instead of attacking Greenwald for stating facts about Paul, Democrats should be asking how it is possible that their own politicians are being outflanked by a right-wing yahoo on the most important questions of peace and justice -- ending the perpetual war for empire and ending the drug war (which also means reducing the police state and the prison-industrial complex)? Who can justify either of these insanities?

That's why Paul sends those Democrats who are in denial about their own party into a rage. He's a monster on pretty much everything else, but when it comes to war and drug war, he's far to the left of Obama.

Can you name a national Republican who will not pursue racist policies?

Can you name a Republican presidential campaign since Nixon's "Southern strategy" of 1968 that did not rely on race-baiting?

I don't vote for Republicans and I don't support racists, but explain to me how Ron Paul having racist supporters and putting out that rhetoric distinguishes him from the rest of the Republican pack. Seriously. Don't tell me there are "moderate" Republicans who don't play to the racist clientele. Are you old enough to remember the "Willie Horton" campaign?

Ending the war on drugs would greatly benefit minorities in this country, substantially roll back the police state and the prison-industrial complex that largely target black and latino people. Given that, can you name a Republican candidate who would be better for minorities than Ron Paul?

But the question you really should be asking is this: How did we get to this horrible point where the Democrats are outflanked on the two biggest questions of peace and justice - the perpetual wars for empire and the drug war - by a Republican who also wants to ban abortion and restore labor rights to their pristine 19th century state and do all those other horrible things Paul supports? How is it possible that the ostensible left is behind Paul on these issues? Why shouldn't Democrats give people the hope that they, too, might roll back the empire and end the insane drug war?

No, obviously, I do not "give Bush credit" and you can read it in the OP...

Did you know? There are actors other than Bush and Obama in this theater. Really!

As the OP says, Bush is a war criminal on the lam. Let us hope one day he'll wander into a jurisdiction with the courage to arrest and indict him. It is Obama's great failure, one that will bite us all many times in the future, that Bush's prosecutor is not the US Department of Justice.

Bush didn't write SOFA as he willed, but the circumstances of 2007 forced it on him. Presumably he would have wanted to undermine SOFA, but he wasn't around this year to do so. Hypotheticals are irrelevant.

Reality is that Obama tried to undermine SOFA, but Iraqi conditions did not allow it.

For that I give credit the Iraqi resistance to the war of aggression, and to the popular will of the people there that made their own government hesitate to allow immunity to US soldiers and extend the occupation.

I give credit to Manning as the alleged leaker of the US military war reports, and to Wikileaks for exposing covered-up atrocities commited by the US occupation, which put the Iraqi government under further pressure not to cave in to the US extension plans.

I give credit to the unpopularity of the war in the US and the enormous costs it has imposed on the American people.

Some touch of credit is due to the Obama administration for giving up on its attempt to do the wrong thing, and finally following the letter of SOFA. But to say simply that "Obama ended the war" or the occupation is a historic distortion. The end came on the schedule laid out in SOFA.

Dec. 31: The United States military has withdrawn from Iraq under the terms of the SOFA...

"SOFA" is the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the Bush regime and the Maliki government in 2007.

SOFA specified a schedule of drawdowns and eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011. The schedule has now been kept, notwithstanding the continued presence of thousands of mercenaries contracted by the Pentagon and of a US embassy housing 6,000 employees in a complex larger than the Vatican.

While the Obama administration has followed the SOFA as agreed by Bush and Maliki, it first attempted to renegotiate or circumvent the SOFA so as to allow US troops to stay in Iraq past the December 31 deadline. This failed, however, because while amenable to such an extension, the Iraqi government found it could not, given the present political climate in Iraq, feasibly enact an immunity for US troops against future charges by Iraqi authorities.

Iraqis' popular rejection of extending the US occupation of Iraq in turn was influenced by the Wikileaks release of US war logs. These confirmed at least 15,000 more deaths in hostilities than had been counted until then in such sources as the Iraq Body Count, and also documented cases in which US troops had massacred Iraqi civilians. Thus Private Bradley Manning, if the allegations against him are true, goes down as one of the true heroes of the war, as the leaks of the war logs helped block US plans to extend the occupation.

The Obama administration has no business taking credit for "ending the war," as it has only enacted the withdrawal that the Bush regime negotiated. However, the US corporate media and both Democrats and Republicans (each for their own twisted reasons) prefer to pretend that this myth is true.

Above all, however, the Obama administration has failed in the essential mission of restoring the rule of law and constitutional democracy, having made no move whatsoever toward bringing the perpetrators of the US war of aggression and war crimes against Iraq to justice. The primary perpetrators such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Wolfowitz, Tenet and Rice need fear no indictments as they enjoy their freedom and personal prosperity and plot their comebacks. It should dismay us all that Obama's speech on the occasion of the withdrawal underlined his administration's willed failure by applying heroic labels to atrocities such as the December 2004 leveling of Fallujah ordered by Bush.


Correct. The United States has withdrawn from Iraq under the terms of the SOFA...

the Status of Forces Agreement reached between the Bush regime and the Maliki government in 2007, which specified the schedule of drawdowns and eventual withdrawal of troops exactly as they were executed. The Obama administration followed the SOFA as agreed by Bush, with the only difference being in the attempt to renegotiate or circumvent the SOFA so as to allow US troops to stay longer than the terms of SOFA allowed. This failed after the Iraqi government found it could not in the present political climate feasibly enact an extension of immunity for US troops against charges by Iraqi authorities. The popular rejection of extending the US occupation in turn was influenced by the Wikileaks release of US war logs confirming at least 15,000 more deaths in hostilities than had been counted until then in such sources as the Iraq Body Count, and also documenting cases in which US troops massacred Iraqi civilians.

Thus the Obama administration has no business taking credit for enacting the withdrawal that the Bush regime had negotiated, although this false view is one that both Democrats and Republicans, each for their own twisted reasons, prefer to pretend is true. Furthermore, the Obama administration failed in the essential mission of restoring the rule of law or making even one move toward bringing the perpetrators of the US war of aggression and war crimes against Iraq to justice. Obama's speech on the occasion of the withdrawal emphasized this willed failure by praising atrocities such as the December 2004 leveling of Fallujah under Bush.

Who has suggested that Manning is being prosecuted under international law? The point rather is...

that the criminals he helped to expose are not being prosecuted under international or any other law, although they should and must be before the US government is ever again to claim legitimacy or the status of a civilized nation.

Elements of the United States government planned and committed a war of aggression on several nations, but the case of Iraq is clear-cut and especially monstrous. A plan was devised over years, a pretext was invented, a campaign of lies was waged against the American people, and an aggression was launched on a nation that posed no threat to them. Hundreds of thousands are dead as a direct consequence or predictable result, millions are maimed, traumatized and displaced, the wealth and well-being of a people is shattered, an ecology has been poisoned.

The planners and perpetrators are known. The government and its agencies have committed a long series of foreign aggressions in recent decades. In the words of Martin Luther King, it still represents "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." Covert aggressions have been among the most frequent and significant of its crimes; the State Department has been a tool and cover for these crimes, as well as more of a pedestrian water-carrier for private corporate interests regardless of the interests of the people (as the cables have usefully documented).

Under the doctrines of international law introduced and propagated by the Allied victors of World War II, (in an effort that the US spearheaded) soldiers and civil servants have a duty to resist the machinery of aggression. In the aftermath of military aggression and genocide by states that conferred on themselves the mantle of legalism, the Nuremberg doctrines defined a category of crime so obvious to any natural human being and so heinous by nature that it cannot be protected by devices of written law; such a regime can arrange the law to render its murders are legal, but that does not make it so. All regime members and servants have a duty to resist such crimes, and cannot use the following of orders as their excuse for committing them.

Assuming the allegations against him are true, Manning followed his duty to this higher law, which again, I must emphasize: is based in doctrine devised by the United States. He had no duty to follow the legalistic channels you mention (IGs and whistleblower "protections," that is a laugh) by which such crimes are usually not revealed, but rather covered up and minimized. The murders he witnessed on the Apache helicopter video had already been covered up for years.

As long as the regime criminals, whose crime reached genocidal proportions, remain unpunished, this government has no claim to legitimacy in the area of "national security" and the idea is absurd that Manning is being prosecuted for revealing truth (under whatever torturedly precised rendering of laws protecting precious and usually overclassified memos) while the planners and mass murderers are free and prosper and to a large extent still in power. He is defamed and called a traitor while everyone from the architects of war crimes to the animals who massacred civilians and their rescuers from aerial fortresses in a country they had invaded as aggressors go untouched. It's some kind of bitter joke.

The cult of secrecy, the idea that several million people have "clearance" to know the practical aspects of what a supposedly democratic government does, but the citizen in whose name this government commits its crimes have no right to know how their taxes are spent, is essential to enabling crimes and protecting the criminals.

Manning's prosecution is rendered all the more absurd by the self-evident period of torture practiced on him for most of the 18 months of his detention, most of that time without charges. The treatment and harsh further punishments planned against Manning (ridiculously disproportionate) are meant as a frightful example to all others who would follow their consciences.
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