Very sorry for the dearth of posts in recent weeks. This is due to personal reasons, which I'll not bore you with. I hope to be writing more here in the near future. I do manage to twit a tweet every now and then, which you can check out at @empireburlesque. More later, I hope. In the meantime, many thanks to those who still read and support the blog. I hope to be worthy of that support again soon.
I was going to write about the bizarre and rather sad celebrations across the progressosphere about the great paradigm-shifting “victory” in the passage of the “U.S.A. Freedom Act” — but I find that Tarzie has got there the fustest with the mostest with a fine piece that nails this momentous event as the tremulous sham that it is. He was notes that Rand Paul — new hero of freedom-lovers everywhere — is now calling for 1,000 more FBI agents to monitor the thoughts, beliefs and actions of Americans to make sure they don’t get up to none of them terroristic-like activities … just as AP reveals that the FBI is conducting a vast, secret airborne surveillance across the country. So what’s the takeaway of this historic event? Just this: “We should privatize a few of the NSA’s Stasi operations, while letting the myriad other ‘security’ agencies run wild.” Smell the liberty!
As all the world knows, the United States government is fervently dedicated to advancing the cause of peace throughout the world. Tirelessly, selflessly — and thanklessly — America pursues this noble mission in every corner of the globe: standing shoulder to shoulder with Saudi extremists in slaughtering civilians in Yemen, with al Qaeda and ISIS beheading their way across Syria, with fascist militias in Ukraine. But recently, America’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning president went far beyond these localized acts of lovingkindness and made a beneficent decision that potentially could effect every single person drawing breath on our blue planet.
Arthur Silber has resurfaced after yet another long season in hell — but only to say that the hell goes on, although he hopes to be writing again soon. This, as always, is a consummation devoutly to be wished. As he depends on contributions given for his writing, and as he has not been able to write for several months, he is doubtless in need of support. If you can give, please consider heading over to his site and putting something in the jar. .... I’ve not been writing much myself of late, for various reasons, including some health-related issues — although nothing remotely like what Arthur is going through. But I too hope to be writing more in the coming days and weeks. So watch, as they say, this space.
On Sunday, Human Rights Watch reported that Saudi Arabia is dropping cluster bombs supplied by the United States in the relentless onslaught on Yemen. These horrific weapons — which not only unleash mass death on first use but leave unexploded bombs that can kill for months or years afterward — have been banned by 116 nations. The United States has not signed the convention against cluster bombs, but has greatly restricted their use. However, a loophole left in US law allows the Pentagon’s favorite war profiteers to sell cluster bombs abroad.
Last week, the United States sent an armada to Yemen, to help enforce a blockade of the poverty-ridden country as it groans under the mass slaughter of Saudi Arabia’s American-backed war of aggression. Now the Saudis, employing the bombs they procured from U.S. war profiteers, have shut down aid shipments by air with a bombing raid on the capital, Sana’a. The result will be more hunger, suffering and death in one of the world’s poorest countries. — But hey, wasn’t Obama so funny at that media dinner thing!
It's amusing to see how our staunch progressives -- who believe so deeply in a level playing field and fair play, who railed so vociferously against crony capitalism back in Bush-Time -- are now twisting themselves in knots to dismiss the stories about that long-festering font of corruption, the Clinton Foundation. Suddenly, what was once evil and corrosive -- peddling elite insider influence for private profit -- is just old hat, no big deal, business as usual. Indeed, Digby, the very avatar of "anguished support" (Tarzie's deeply apt description of our progressives' blind self-tethering to a party whose leaders -- like the Clintons, like Obama -- are so servile to Big Money and war profiteering that they make Dick Nixon look like Diogenes), points us to an "excellent piece" by the ever-overexcited Charles Pierce, esquire (sorry, I mean Charles Pierce of Esquire), which sounds this very theme.
Glenn Ford says, with eloquent heat, exactly what I was thinking: that Michael Dyson's brutal character assassination of Cornel West in the historically racist pages of the New Republic was, above all else, an application for a job in the upcoming Hillary Clinton administration. Ford writes:
*** This is my column from the latest print version of CounterPunch Magazine. *** According to latest report from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the United States currently deploys some 2,080 nuclear warheads, ready to launch at a moment’s notice. It has 500 tactical nuclear weapons — for combat use, not strategic strikes — primed in bases across Europe. There are also 2,680 American warheads in storage. They can be brought out at short notice and added to the active arsenal. Including retired but still intact weapons, the United States possesses 7,100 nuclear warheads, any one of which could destroy a metropolis and kill tens or hundreds of thousands of people in a single eye blink.
Another week, another war. And yet another American alliance with the forces of Islamic extremism. Washington is clearly the guiding force between the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen -- a move that will almost certainly lead to a protracted and ruinous conflict, spilling over many borders and, as usual, creating fertile ground for more extremism. In other words, America's war profiteers and military imperialists have given themselves another rich seam of loot and power. And in Yemen, as in Syria, the Yanks are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with their old allies, al Qaeda, once again.
The defenders of Western values are always bold and brave: Israeli Soldiers Raid Homes, Question Kids as Young as 9 (NBC). Yes, it takes enormous courage for a gang of armed and body-armored men to barge into private homes in the middle of the night, haul children out of bed, point their weapons at them and batter them with threats and questions. We are indeed fortunate that such a bastion of our precious Western ideals exists in the Middle East, which is otherwise filled with brutal barbarians. And now that King Bibi has been re-anointed, the beat -- and the batterings -- will go on. To be fair, had his "liberal" opponents won, this would still be the case, as Yonatan Medel notes in the LRB. Here is a quote from an ad for the great progressive hope, Isaac Herzog: