Archive for the 'Iraq' Category

Naomi Wolf on the end of America and the rise of fascism (audio)

socialist-podcast.pngEpisode #4 of the Paulitics Podcast has now been released.

This latest episode features a talk by Naomi Wolf on the topic of her new book entitled “The End of America”.

In it, Wolf discusses the historical evidence for 10 steps which are universally recognizable as benchmarks that a democracy is moving towards fascism or totalitarianism and how each of these ten steps is now being seen in one form or another in the United States under the Bush Administration.

To listen to Wolf’s talk or to download the episode, click here.

To find out how to subscribe to the podcast and have episodes brought to you automatically, click here.

To view past episodes of the Paulitics Podcast, click here.

More pro-conservative opinion manipulation at Angus-Reid

For those of you keeping tack, this is strike two against Angus-Reid in less than a month. (Strike one being this wonderful little piece of pro-conservative push polling which I discovered last month.)

Now Angus-Reid is finding new and more interesting ways to push pro-conservative propaganda on the public. This is a screen cap from Angus-Reid’s web page which I took approximately 20 minutes ago.  I haven’t altered anything except to add the highlighting.  The screen cap pretty much speaks for itself.


So this is the top page of the press release that Angus-Reid sends out to the public and to all the media firms reads: “More Americans back long commitment in Iraq.”  Most people reading this headline would read this and likely think ‘oh, more Americans back a long commitment in Iraq than don’t.’

The only thing standing in the way of this is the pesky fact that a huge majority of Americans want U.S. troops out of Iraq either immediately or within the next year while fewer than 40% want to stay there.  BUT, the number of Americans who want to stay in Iraq just rose from slightly under one third to slightly over one third.  So “more” Americans want to stay in Iraq… than the previous proportion of Americans who wanted to stay in Iraq.

Oh, how beautifully ambiguous the word “more” can be when you deliberately leave out its referent.

Propaganda in Action: Government-Fed News in the Turkey/Iraq Crisis

Is it state-sponsored propaganda yet?

I was reading up on the recent offensive Turkish incursion into Iraq in the New York Times (here) and at first I didn’t notice too much out of the ordinary (other than, of course, that the Turkish government is portrayed as angels having done nothing themselves). But, as an interesting exercise, then I decided to look at the sourcing that the putatively ‘liberal’ New York Time newspaper — the publication ‘of record’ — used to file this story. Needless to say, if you are interested in looking, you’ll find that, if this is the situation in the supposedly ‘best’ publication in the U.S., the situation is much the same, if not worse, in most other ‘lesser’ publications.

What’s the difference between this and the darkest days of the state-sponsored propaganda in Germany or the USSR? The difference is that in Germany and the USSR they actually knew they were being fed a purely government-endorsed viewpoint.

Here is a copy of the article as it appears today with the sources highlighted. Notice that the only time the socialist PKK party is supposedly cited is when the Times emphasizes that there is no proof of the “rebel’s” claim to have captured Turkish soldiers.

12 Turkish Soldiers Killed in Rebel Attack

Published: October 21, 2007

ISTANBUL, Oct. 21 — At least 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in an ambush by Kurdish militants shortly after midnight on Sunday, in an audacious attack that sharply increased the pressure on Turkey’s government to send troops into northern Iraq.

A group of Kurdish fighters moved into Turkey from northern Iraq, the Turkish military said, and attacked Turkish soldiers based near the town of Hakkari, about 25 miles from the border, in three different locations, killing 12 and injuring another 16. Turkish soldiers then struck back, firing from helicopters and from the ground, killing at least 23 militants, according to the military, which provided its account in a statement.

In a statement on a Kurdish website, the militants said they captured eight Turkish soldiers, but the claim could not be substantiated.

The attack came just four days after Turkey’s parliament voted to give the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan full authority to send troops into northern Iraq to strike at Kurdish militants who hide there.

At the time, Turkish officials emphasized that they would not immediately apply the authority, and security experts said the resolution would be used mainly as political leverage to press the United States and its Iraqi Kurdish allies to act against the Kurdish militants, the Kurdistan Workers Party, known by its initials, the P.K.K.

But Sunday’s attack was one of the worst in recent memory, and the government, which has been skeptical of an offensive in the past, will be under intense pressure to act.

“With this incident, the arrow left the bow, and no room is left for the government to hesitate, postpone or fail to launch a cross border operation,” said Armagan Kuloglu, a retired Turkish major general, in a telephone interview. “If the government resists ordering a military operation, such a step would endanger its existence and credibility.”

In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, Mr. Erdogan called an emergency security meeting among Turkey’s top political and military officials for 8 p.m.

“Our anger is great,” Mr. Erdogan [the Pro-U.S. Turkish Prime Minister] said on national television in Istanbul, where he was casting his vote in a national referendum.

In a veiled reference to the United States, he [the Pro-U.S. Turkish Prime Minister] said: “I especially want you to know that we do not have any thoughts as to what one side or another would have to say about this.”

President Jalal Talabani of Iraq, speaking at a news conference on Sunday with another of Iraq’s senior Kurdish leaders, Massoud Barzani, urged the militants to end their attacks on Turkey, The Associated Press reported.

“But if they insist on the continuation of fighting, they should leave Kurdistan, Iraq, and not create problems here,” Mr. Talabani [U.S.-supported President of Iraq] said, according to the A.P.

“We are not going to be caught up in the P.K.K. and Turkish war,” said Mr. Barzani, the president of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, Reuters reported, “but if the Kurdistan region is targeted, then we are going to defend our citizens.”

Interestingly, the L.A. Times has a completely different tactic than the N.Y. Times in sourcing this story. Namely, the L.A. Times decides that it’s just easier if they don’t cite anybody as a source for anything they are writing about until over halfway through the article. (Although, in the second half of their article, the L.A. Times does follow the N.Y. Times lead of citing only pro-U.S. Iraqi sources such as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Iraqi MP and government ally Abdul Kareem Enizi. Although they do give a one-sentence line to Suleiman Barwari, a 51-year-old civilian resident of Zakho who’s quotation merely says “The regional government should not let the two sides finish their internal fights on our lands”). [source]

See also:

Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

Propaganda in Action: Canada as a force for peace in the world

Propaganda in Action: The release of the British sailors

Propaganda in Action: The Iranian Hostage Crisis

Propaganda in Action: The closure of the Hershey plant

Propaganda in Action: The Death of Pinochet

A progressive counter-ribbon to “support our troops” [pics]

We’ve all seen the annoying “support our troops” ribbons like these ones below. Usually they can be found on the backs of cars of people who supposedly “support out troops” while the rest of us leftist heathens presumably have to be physically restrained from spitting and throwing stones at passing soldiers.

support-our-troops-yellow.PNG support-our-troops-legion.PNG

Or, conversely, there are also variants of these ribbons taken to their tacky and exploitative natural conclusion such as this wonderfully cheesy ribbon which, I kid you not, is actually a real product that some capitalist somewhere came up with:

Seriously, how many clichés can you fit into one image?

Scott Neigh had some interesting points talking about how we on the left can fight back against the right’s jingoistic, vacuous phrase “support our troops”.

While Scott Neigh’s points are definitely worth reading (as are all of his writings, for that matter), he concludes that there aren’t really any good, coherent counter-attacks against the “support our troops” trope. Specifically, Scott points out the problems with the current counter-attack “Support our troops: Bring them home”.

So, with that in mind, I took it upon myself to come up with a unique, concise and coherent counter-attack to the “support our troops” ribbon.

At first, I thought about simply translating the French anti-war ribbons like this one:


(translation: “No to war”)

But then I came up with this idea which is even simpler and hits even closer to the heart of what we on the left, I think, are actually wanting to say.

Most importantly, there’s no way that this ribbon could be more clear. It is, quite simply:



If you’re interested in posting the “stop killing people” ribbon on your blog or website, just copy the following html code and paste it wherever you’d like the image to appear (it won’t link back to this blog or this post).

Top 13 dumbest comments on the Iraq War ever… and other awards

As most of you will probably be aware, I made a post last week comparing the U.S. to Al Qaeda which generated nearly 450 comments and 14,000 hits.

However, the bulk of these comments were spread out over this blog, facebook, and  So, since I just finally got aroud to reading all of the comments now (my girlfriend and I have been apartment hunting together, so I haven’t had time to blog lately), I figured I’d have some fun and take all of the comments from all websites and come up with a series of awards for the comments generated by this post.

I’m calling it the Paulies and the categories are: Dumbest commentBest commentThe greatest one-post response to a previous comment and, lastly, the greatest overall exchange.

Much like the Oscars, yes, the Paulies are also political (and rigged so that Martin Scorsese can’t win).  And, also like he Oscars, the Academy for the Paulies (i.e., me) considers it an honour just to be nominated.

So, in the first category: greatest overall exchange, the nominees are:

#1)  The exchange between harlon57 and pointman on reddit.
#2)  The exchange between RPJ and Armando on
#3)  The exchange between Scheissen and hagbardceline on

And the winner is…..

The exchange between Scheissen and hagbardceline on! [music]

by Scheissen on 5/28/07 – 4 diggs
Bullshit. This is pure sensationalism propaganda from a socialist (he even has a link to about Marxism!). The United States didn’t and couldn’t cause 1.6 million deaths in seventeen years. And yet that person believes all killing is terrorism. I may have to bookmark this site just to laugh at it.
In recent news,
“U.S. frees 42 al Qaeda kidnap victims in Iraq”

by hagbardceline on 5/28/07 + 3 diggs
Ok, so what number would be acceptable then?

by Scheissen on 5/28/07 – 3 diggs
How about not an imaginary inflated number? Let me guess, you’re the same person that believes the U.S. cause 600,000 deaths in the Iraqi war and not the 60,000 number.

by hagbardceline on 5/28/07 – 2 diggs
Don’t take any guesses, you don’t know me.
Way to dodge the question though, sparky. You can try again now.

by Scheissen on 5/28/07 – 2 diggs
Who the fuck even said there was an “acceptable number.” Thanks for assuming.

by hagbardceline on 5/28/07 + 1 digg
Aww that’s cute. You’ve taken a position you can’t quantify. Adorable.

by Scheissen on 5/28/07  – 3 diggs
You fucking moron, you insult me because I was “guessing” you and you made an assumption question for me to answer when it wasn’t even outlined in my post.

by hagbardceline on 5/28/07 + 1 digg
It’s an easy question man, since we are in a thread that addresses it, I thought it might be relevant.
“You fucking moron, you insult me because I was “guessing” you and you made an assumption question for me to answer when it wasn’t even outlined in my post.”
Since that is your submission for a credible thought, no less distinct english, I’ll go ahead and treat your further posts as if it were from a monkey with language.

In the second category: The greatest one-post response to a previous comment, the nominees are:

#1)  EntropyMan on

by wintermd on 5/27/07 – 7 diggs
Dems have a plan for Iraq yet?. They have been in power for how long? No plan yet?

by EntropyMan on 5/28/07 + 4 diggs
There’s wintermd, on queue, with the only words he knows how to say. Is it a keyboard macro at this point? F6 = spout bullshit?

#2)  xTRUMANx on

by wildone on 5/28/07 – 2 diggs
Our boys and girls are over there fighting a war with the SOB’S who took 2 air planes and crashed them into the world trade center. Before we got there the women of the country had no rights to anything education, voting, and any other right we Americana’s take for granted everyday. We are not terrorist we are the defenders of freedom. If you cant tell the deference them move your but over there and live in the middle east and see how great the locals are!

by xTRUMANx on 5/28/07 – 2 diggs
Actually, I’ve lived in the mid-east for 17 years. And I don’t stay in the U.S. so your argument of, “If you cant tell the deference them move your but over there and live in the middle east and see how great the locals are!” makes you look stupid, which makes your country look stupid (no offense americans, but that guy is making you look dumb). My family and I have enjoyed our stay in the mid east and we have never complained about women’s rights, not that we’re afraid, but we’ve accepted it. I know it may look like people have no rights (to you), nor am I saying there aren’t people in the mid east who want a more western like life, but most of us there enjoy life there and don’t appreciate foreign nations trying to stuff their values down our throats.
As for your boys and girls, whom you say are, “over there fighting a war with the SOB’S who took 2 air planes and crashed them into the world trade center” aren’t doing that in fact. America didn’t go to Iraq over Al-Qaeda and it’s obvious that you have been fed bullshit as to why your “boy and girls” are over there.

#3)  Schwallex from

Jewjr -2 points 6 days ago
The guys mixing apples and oranges comparing terrorism to America. Actions that a government makes are far different then those of a terrorist. The main difference is a government should and can be held accountable for its actions.

Schwallex 11 points 6 days ago
Wait a minute. So, if Osama bin Laden and his followers founded a state of their own, if would be perfectly okay for them to come over and kill 655,000 Americans? You know, they could pretend to bring democracy to your country. And to get rid of your WMD, which you actually have.
“Actions that a government makes are far different then those of a terrorist.”
Well, that’s the entire point. Actions that the current U.S. government makes are not “far different then those of a terrorist”. You haven’t been following the news in the recent years, have you?

#4)  conundri from

(responding to multiple comments that I was deliberatly misconstruing the term ‘terrorism’ to further my ideological/rhetorical/communist goals.)

conundri 3 points 6 days ago
Let me take you back in time, to when the word Terrorism was first coined… It began as government intimidation during the Reign of Terror in France (1793-1794), from the French word terrorisme.
“If the basis of a popular government in peacetime is virtue, its basis in a time of revolution is virtue and terror — virtue, without which terror would be barbaric; and terror, without which virtue would be impotent.” [Robespierre, speech in Fr. National Convention, 1794]
At the time, the French government was routinely using public executions with the guillotine against almost random citizens to perpetuate the state of fear that had brought the new government into power…
Simply redefining a word to not include yourself, or your own group’s actions does not change reality. A government can be terrorist in nature. Some examples might include Tiananmen Square, or even our own Kent State massacre, and I would argue that it is not even necessary for people to be killed in a terrorist act. Mass arrests for political purposes / imprisoning dissidents, or the taking of hostages would be examples of terrorist actions on either side of the line of government that don’t necessarily involve death.
Hope this sheds some light on the discussion from another vantage point…

And the winner is…..

#1)  EntropyMan! [music]

Continue reading ‘Top 13 dumbest comments on the Iraq War ever… and other awards’

Reality Check: What you’re not supposed to think about

“655,000 Iraqi civilians have died. Who are the terrorists?”
-Rosie O’Donnell from The View comparing U.S. activities with Islamic terrorism

Since Rosie O’Donnell has recently “got quit” from her job on The View (or rather, had her pre-existing plans for departure greatly accelerated) because of uttering this sentence, it is worth taking a second to explore the veracity of Rosie’s statement.

If we take the total confirmed attacks by Al Queda against the West (broadly understood) we have 5 acts of terrorism in total.  The 1993 WTC Bombing which killed 6. The 2000 bombing of the U.S.S. Cole which killed 17. The September 11th attacks which killed 2974. The 2004 Madrid bombings which killed 191. And, lastly, the 2005 bombings in London, England which killed 52.

So, Al Qaeda has claimed a total of 3240 fatalities in the West.

Now America’s activities abroad are far too numerous to either delineate or to quantify, so, for simplicity’s sake, let’s limit it only to US involvement in the country of Iraq since the enactment of UN resolution 667 in 1990 up to the present.

The Gulf War and the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq throughout the 90s up until 2003 killed a total of approximately 1,000,000 (source).  And, from 2003 up until the present, according to the best and most thorough statistical project undertaken the U.S.  has killed approximately 651,000 in the Iraq War.

reality-check-us-versus-al-qaeda.pngSo, the U.S. has claimed a total of 1,651,000 (approximately — interesting how we don’t bother to count their fatalities isn’t it?).

Keep in mind this figure pertains only to the fatalities since 1990 and that this pertains only to fatalities the U.S. caused in the country of Iraq.  We could have just as easily included U.S. involvement in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, South Africa, Cuba, Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil, and a host of other countries which undoubtedly would have made the data more interesting, but I think this makes the point.

Let us put this into perspective another way.  If a U.S. politician stood up and said that he’d kill 100 Iraqis for every one U.S. soldier killed, he would be considered a moderate since the U.S. has killed on average over 500 Iraqis for every one Westerner killed by Al Qaeda.

Now this isn’t intended to get into a debate over motivation or reasons for engaging in these horrible killings.  Everybody has reasons for the things they do and anybody can justify their actions (at least to themselves).  But, objectively, it is more than obvious that Rosie O’Donnell statement was actually conservative and an underestimation.

But, there are some things we (the people who are hated for our freedoms) are not supposed to think about and this, apparently, is one of them.

Who’s afraid of human rights? Conservatives apparently

amnesty-international.pngI recently came across Sam Carson’s fantastic posts (available here) on the 2007 Amnesty International Report (available here).  If you haven’t taken a look, it’s well worth the read.

In his post (actually it’s a series of posts) Sam draws attention to the sad criticism of Amnesty International by right-wing figures and organizations such as Alan Dershowitz, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the U.S.-based Capital Research Center.

I’ve always found Dershowitz et al‘s claims that Amnesty International is biassed to be disingenuous at best and I think Sam’s done a great job bringing this issue to the fore.

Specifically, the intellectually dishonest position of Dershowitz et al needs to have a better airing amongst true progressives so that the absurdity of the right’s claims that Amnesty International is a “political organization” with a bone to pick against the US and is biassed against them by focussing on their human rights abuses — can be once and for all discredited.

This task of discrediting the right-wing’s claims that Amnesty International focusses unduly on the US should be fairly to demonstrate for anybody who has ever read AI’s reports for three reasons.

First, even if there was more material on human rights abuses in the US and the West, this does not negate the validity of actual findings of their reports.  I don’t think anybody (even Dershowitz) goes so far as to claim that AI just makes this stuff up.  So complaining that AI is a political tool with an axe to grind against the US is a little bit like a child who steals a chocolate bar from the corner store, gets caught and then complains that he got spanked when the boy down the street has done worse.  The fact that the boy down the street has done worse has no impact whatsoever on whether or not the first child deserved what he got.

Second, the way Amnesty International has ALWAYS structured their reports — and, come to think about it, the way virtually all NGO reports are structured — is to lead with and emphasize places with the newest and biggest developments in human rights abuses and then, understandably, merely update information on already well-documented, long-standing human rights abuses like those in China or Columbia for instance. 

So since the US is the one creating most of the new and interesting ways to infringe upon human rights since 2002, what the hell do they expect??

Lastly, as Noam Chomsky is fond of saying, ‘whenever you hear something said with great confidence, it’s always a good idea to check first and see whether it is true’.  So, to recap, the claim by the right is that there is undue focus on the United States by Amnesty International and that the US is used as a ‘political punching bag’ by what constitutes an ultimately partisan organization.

If we take a look at the main body of the report (the country by country report) we see the following breakdown in the pages devoted to some key countries.  Out of 242 total pages, Afghanistan takes up about 2 pages, Algeria approximately 3 pages, Bosnia and Herzegovina about 3 pages, China around 3 pages, and the United States — which supposedly has so much undue focus — is tied with Columbia in taking up approximately 4 pages each.

Wow, I guess Amnesty International must really have an axe to grind against the US, eh?

(Oh, and if you think that maybe America is focussed on unduly in other countries’ reports, you’re wrong again.  The word “US” is mentioned approx. 150 times in the 242 page report — excluding the section devoted to the United States — but the vast majority of these occurances are attributable to either the phrase “US-led invasion of Iraq” or to occurances of figures for currency [GDP, foreign aid etc.] which are always given in US dollars.)

So who’s afraid of human rights?  It appears the answer is the United States, Russia, China, the Congo and the Taliban and conservatives.

Well, I guess they keep good company.

An apology is owed…

This is an absolutely fantastic quote and a great quote for any progressive person who wants to throw something back at liberals when they turn their noses up at us.

“When capital and the ruling classes apologise for: Colonialism, the 14 hour day, class privilege, the 7 day working week, children in coalmines, the opium wars, the massacre of the Paris Commune, slavery, the Spanish-American War, the Boer War, starvation, apartheid, anti-union laws, the First World War, Flanders, trench warfare, mustard gas, aerial bombing, the Soviet Intervention, the Armenian Genocide, chemical weapons, fascism, the Great Depression, hunger marches, Nazism, the Spanish Civil War, militarism, Asbestosis, radiation death, the Massacre of Nanking, the Second World War, Belsen, Dresden, Hiroshima, Racism, The Mafia, nuclear weapons, the Korean War, DDT, McCarthyism, production lines, blacklists, Thalidomide, the rape of the Third World, poverty, the arms race, plastic surgery, the electric chair, environmental degradation, the Vietnam War, the military suppression of Greece, India, Malaya, Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Turkey, the Gulf War, trade in human body parts, malnutrition, Exxon Valdez, deforestation, organized crime, the Heroin and Cocain trade, tuberculosis, the destruction of the Ozone Layer, cancer, exploitation of labour and the deaths of 50,000,000 Communists and trade unionists in this century alone, then — and only then — will I consider apologising for the errors of socialism.” (from: the Communist Party of Australia)

There’s a great pic to go with this quote that I’ve just added to the Paulitics Political Images resource (along with a bunch of other additions).

Movie Review: “Bobby”

william_h__macy6.jpgThe new-to-DVD Emilio Estevez picture “Bobby” is a fictional re-telling of approximately 25 characters surrounding the early June assassination of Democratic Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

From the get-go, I had high hopes for this picture.

Among the reasons for my high hopes were, firstly, the highly pertinent character of the Vietnam-era when compared with the current era.  Secondly, there was the depth of casting which was, at times, almost comical in terms of the sheer number of celebrities taking part in the ensemble cast.

William H. Macy.

Christian Slater.

Martin Sheen.

Helen Hunt.

Laurence Fishburne.

Anthony Hopkins.

Demi Moore.

Sharon Stone.

And just when you think you’ve seen the last celebrity appearance, you’re confronted with a long-haired Ashton Kutcher and then just as quickly with other stars such as Elijah Wood.

But the amazing cast and the impressive performances just couldn’t distract from one simple, yet important fact:

The movie idolizes Bobby Kennedy when, given the anti-war motif of of the film, it shouldn’t have.

Throughout the movie, interesting (and accurate) parallels are drawn between our time and 1968.

-Racial unrest and a Democratic Party primary with contenders arousing hopes of a new breakthrough in terms of racial equality.

-New balloting procedures involving ‘chads’ (that exact term, popularized after the 2000 Florida election controversy, is actually mentioned in the film).

-An unpopular war.

-A sitting, pro-war president.

One needn’t be a student of Thucydides to draw on the intended parallels.

But the problem is that, while the American Democratic Party has been in the process of Lionizing the Kennedy name for the past 40 years, there really is little merit for these laurels.  What is more, the logic of focussing what is in the final analysis, an anti-war movie, around RFK merely serves to obfuscate his position with regards to that war.

Estevez selectively choses clips from video archival footage of RFK answering questions on Vietnam to suggest that he was the anti-war candidate who valliantly campaigned against the war.  However the facts are far from this fiction.  The true anti-war candidate, the one who got into the race as a dark horse candidate and who actually was the stuff of Hollywood underdog stories was Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy, not Bobby Kennedy.

He was the one who started the campaign against the pro-war LBJ and, shockingly, came within a hair of defeating the sitting president in the New Hampshire primary.

It was this surprising finish which served, in part, as a catalyst for LBJ’s decision not to run again for re-election and which brought Kennedy into the race for the Democratic nomination.

So, ultimately, all the orchestral pieces overlayed with snippets of RFK’s speeches; all the best acting; and all the best actors cannot erase the fact that the movie idolizes the wrong guy all the while glossing over the contribution of the true anti-war candidate who took a principled stand on the issue:  Eugene McCarthy.


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