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There Must Be a Special Place in Hell for Those Who Would Vote for McCain, Based on the Color of Obama’s Skin

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On an altar of prejudice we crucify our own, yet the blood of all children is the color of God. — Don Williams, Jr., American poet and novelist

As American voters head off to stand in line for two (or three or five or eight or ten or more) hours today to cast their votes, the question bears repeating: Exactly why would anyone vote for McCain?

We’ve watched over the past two months as Republicans of sound mind and good conscience have jumped ship to Barack Obama, citing, among other things, the differences between Obama’s and McCain’s temperament, judgment, ability to handle crises, the moral tenor of their campaigns and — last but not least — their inclusiveness (or not) within their vision of the American story for ALL Americans: people of every class, race, generation, nationality, across every region of this country. 

Except for the criminally stupid and gullible — those hapless souls who, God bless them, actually believe Sarah’s stump speeches and are convinced that Obama is not only the anti-Christ, but is an Muslim, socialist, abortion-crazed terrorist, bent on turning our country into a communist state and shutting down the coal industry, to boot — who is left to vote for John McCain?  

Only the racists — those voters to whom issues of economy, jobs, education, health care, war and peace take a back seat to the color of a man’s skin. God help us all if the Republican vote stealing campaign trumps the voice of the American people. God help us, because these people have been whipped into such a frenzy by John McCain, Sarah Palin and their sidekick, Joe the Plumber, that they’re ready for blood. Anyone’s blood. And John McCain is just the leader to deliver.

Got War?

Lost in the flurry of the economy over the past 2 months has been discussion on the wars. Not just Iraq, but the wars of the future — those wars we have yet to see. As John  McCain would be the first to tell you, war is his specialty. Peace is not. As Pat Buchanan says in the video, below, about McCain: “He will make Cheney look like Gandhi”

Veterans for Peace: Commie Appeasers or Reality Checks?

What do these veterans of the Vietnam War, the Korean War and the Iraq War have in common?

For Now We See Through a Glass, Darkly

If we learned nothing over the past 8 years, it’s that the only thing worse than a warmonger is an ignorant, dishonest warmonger. 

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The Emperor’s Old Clothes: The 3 Fatal Flaws of the McCain Doctrine

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Rather than undertake too ambitious of a project (e.g. laying out the evidence that McCain, an adherent to the Yosemite Sam school of diplomacy, suffers from ‘angry little man’ complex, his worldview shaped by the perpetual chip he carries around on his shoulder, or making a case for the similarities between being a role player of violent video games vs. being a fighter pilot dropping bombs on women and children, en masse, from the relative detachment of a cockpit), we’ve narrowed our focus to 3 real-life examples of what John McCain brings to the foreign policy table, all of which share a common thread: a sore lack of objectivity in the man who would be president. That is, to the extent that the world exists and functions independently of John’s McCain’s narrow field of vision, the man is oblivious. The emperor is naked. 

 

“I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition!” 

 

FATAL FLAW #1: Much ado has been made over McCain’s recent interview, in which he juxtaposed his confusion over Spain’s geography with an odd, pre-emptive refusal to meet, under a McCain presidency, with Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain. The key ingredient of this exchange has been overlooked — namely, the reason for John McCain’s appearance of confusion. Go ahead and try: Listen to the exchange as many times as you like, you’ll never make sense of it, because it makes no sense. Only by listening between the lines can you hear what was really being said. 

John McCain wasn’t confused. Even if he mistook Zapatero for Zapatista, he wasn’t confused. He simply wasn’t listening. He already knew the answer, his mind was made up. This is why, no matter how many times the interviewer re-phrased the question, his answer remained the same. In this seemingly innocuous scenario lies the first of John McCain’s 3 fatal flaws: he doesn’t listen, and he rarely does, because he already owns the answers. And should reality corner him like a rat, he’ll charge back, teeth bared, attacking those who would disparage his wrongness. He’s just as likely to simply change his answer — without apology, and sans introspection — even if it means telling a straight-faced lie. Just like that.    

We’ve seen this same tack replay in recent days during the Wall Street crisis. No need to puzzle over McCain’s fist-flailing and wild contradictions from one day to the next. This is simply what he does. He’s not so concerned about the facts and inner workings of the situation at hand, as he is about preserving the appearance of being right. The question then becomes: on what does John McCain base his pre-conceived answers? Like anyone else, he likely bases his original answers on information. Problems arise when (1) the information changes, as is wont to happen in real life, or (2) his original conclusion proves to be wrong. This is the real McCain. The only reason we’re seeing him so clearly, is because he’s standing under a bigger microscope. It’s historically in keeping with his character to attack those who challenge him, to erratically say and do things that make absolutely no sense, and to lie. Quit calling McCain’s Spanish Inquisition a “gaffe,” folks. It’s a character flaw. And it doesn’t take much imagination to see how this flaw could play out in various foreign policy exchanges. 

Repeat after me, Professor Higgins: “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain, and in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen”

 
John McCain: Principled Opponent of Torture, or Complicitous Monkey Flunkie?

 

FATAL FLAW #2:John McCain — himself a former victim of torture — drafted and endorsed legislation to legalize torture. You may hear words to the contrary, but scratch below the surface, and you’ll find only impassioned rhetoric. The truth resides in McCain’s actual record, whereby he extended and approved Bush’s existing liberties with justice — the sort of liberties that allowed the U.S. to send an innocent man to a prison in Syria, where he would spend the next year being tortured to extract confessions. Sound implausible? Just ask Maher Arar. (Never heard of Maher Arar? Check out the videos below, plus the links at the end of this post, which tell his story, including the Congressional hearings in the wake of his release from that Syrian prison). Here, it should be stressed that, while torture has proven a useful tool in extracting confessions, it has proven useless in extracting the truth. John McCain should know this. He sung like a canary when he reached his own breaking point during torture sessions, saying he’d have confessed to anything, just to make them stop. 

Regarding McCain’s role in torture legislation, there is an excellent April 2008 piece in Salon, by Glen Greenwald, titled “John McCain and Bush’s Torture Policies” which gives a brief, factual history on McCain’s role in legislating torture and granting the Bush Administration discretionary powers to by-pass the Geneva Convention. I suggest reading Greenwald’s article in entirety, bearing in mind, as you read, that John McCain’s role in this legislation literally changed the laws of our country, so that Bush “could” (as opposed to “would” or “will” in legal terms**) legally extract information from terrorists by any means necessary, including torturing their children, burying suspects alive, or by subcontracting their torture to other countries (most often Egypt, Syria or Afghanistan). In Maher Arar’s case, he was flown to Syria, where he spent the following year living in a grave-like 3′ x 6′ cell, being tortured into making false confessions, a fate eerily similar to the one John McCain, himself, suffered at the hands of his North Vietnamese captors. 

Sending Maher Arar “to be confined in a gravelike cell and tortured did nothing to make America safer.” —Senator Patrick Leahy, 2007 

That our policies toward torture define our moral compass, as a nation, goes without saying. It also goes without saying, that our flagrant disregard of international law in our treatment of suspects, detainees and prisoners-of-war is an open invatation for others to revisit the same onto American troops. But what John McCain needs to hear, if only he’d listen, is that lawlessness begets lawlessness. We’ve seen this over the past decade or so, with America’s “chickens coming home to roost” in one way or another. An ugly truth — no one wants to believe it — but someone had to say it. John McCain suffers from the delusion that America owns the right to make exceptions to the established tenets of constitutional and international law, the ends always somehow justifying the means. Those other countries or individuals who behave in kind are simply evil: they’re terrorists, they’re rogue nations. By endorsing torture and lawlessness, John McCain has shown that, not only does he lack the ability to learn from history’s painful lessons, but that his approach to the law operates independently of a moral compass.  

 

Next up: Baghdad! — John McCain, January 2, 2002

I am very certain that this military engagement will not be very difficult. It may entail the risk of American lives and treasure, but Saddaam Hussein is vastly weaker than he was in 1991. — John McCain, September 12, 2002

 

About that surge….

 

FATAL FLAW #3: The feather in the emperor’s cap is, of course, the surge. The surge, the surge, the surge…. How many times has the phrase, “The success of the surge” been bandied about on the news, withnary a word of truth breathed on the topic? How many times has McCain berated Obama for not supporting the surge? How many times has he ridiculed Obama for not sharing McCain’s prescient vision on the surge? The canarypapers ranted a bit on this topic in our July 24th post, “The Surge: Ethnic Cleansing with Perks,” wherein we offered a corrected version of history.

In a nutshell, for those interested in such things, the surge “worked” only if you consider it a success to purchase 90,000 Sunni soldiers in an effort to “awaken” them to stop killing U.S. soldiers. You’ll never hear this on the evening news, because it’s contrary to the fairy tale we’ve been fed by the Bush Administration. The truth is simply this: the reason the death toll in Iraq dropped is NOT because of, but is merely incidental tothe additional 30,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq. This is but one of four truths about the surge, which you’ll never hear on the evening news: (1) we bought the oppositions’ armies (90,000 Sunnis added to the 450,000 Shiites already in our employ) and made them into our “friends,” and (2) we sent an additionalU.S. 30,000 troops over to train our new Sunni “friends” and, (3) we armed both armies of “friends” to engage in civil war to kill and maim one another, with Sunnis slaughtering and ethnically cleansed Shiites and vice-versa — which created and intensified divisions where none existed before, ultimately undermining and killing the possibility of reconciliation or compromise between the two (tho the good news is, U.S. deaths went down!) and, lastly, (4) Muqtada alSadr — the guy we really, really, really hate in Iraq (because he’s a bloodthirsty crazy Shitte with zero scruples, and may be a terrorist, to boot) — called a ceasefire in the summer of 2007, which he has since honored. 

It’s really no more complicated than that, unless you’re the sort who wants to know about the nuts and bolts of the U.S. strategy to keep the Iraqi citizens under our control, by the above-mentioned ethnic cleansing, plus torture, illegal detainment and myriad other war crimes, richly studded with no-bid U.S. contracts for oil. This is, in great part, how and why the U.S. maintains the lie that the Iraqis stubbornly refuse to “take control of their government.” We don’t want them to take control. We want them to surrender their oil right to us. Capisce? Using the word “success” in the same sentence with “surge” is a vulgar contradiction of terms. But fear not, it’ll probably be another 30 years before the history books catch up with the truth.

For his part, John McCain has gotten a free ride, clinging to the coattails of the Bush’s fairy tale of the surge. But this is not the point. The point is that John McCain is no maverick. And if there’s one thing this country has needed over the past 8 years, while suffering under the rule of a broken and corrupt war machine, it’s been a maverick. What we got, instead, was John McCain — a yes-man to the Bush Administration whose worldview is shaped by a persistent neglect of the facts — even as these facts are freely available to anyone with access to “the Google” and C-SPAN. 

Now that it’s clear that the surge has succeeded and brought victory in Iraq within sight, Senator Obama can’t quite bring himself to admit his own failure in judgment.Instead, he commits the even greater error of insisting that, even in hindsight, he would still oppose the surge.— John McCain, July 27, 2008 (Editor’s note: Could it be that Obama knows something about the surge that McCain has overlooked — namely, the facts?)

Through the Bush Administration’s unholy war on terror, we’ve seen up-close John McCain’s tack on foreign policy, which could only be called maverick in the sense that it’s erratic: he carries a perpetual chip on his shoulder; he is morally detached from the on-the-ground reality of war; he doesn’t listen; his belief-system operates independently of the facts; he maintains a bull-headed insistence that he’s right, no matter what the facts, but will freely change his answers to suit reality; he ruthlessly attacks anyone who disagrees with him; his approach to law & order lacks a moral compass; he’s not above lying. 

In the case of the Iraq war, all of the above are true. But the tragedy lies in the fact that John McCain has had before him the same intelligence we’ve all owned: America was taken to war in Iraq — and has been duped into staying the course — on the basis of false pretense and cooked intelligence. A real maverick would have demanded that the broken war machine be set right. A real maverick would not cling to the principles of wrong, and boastfully call it right. John McCain has had 7-years of opportunities to do the right thing, and has consistently failed to act on them.

In the coming days, this country will likely be tested (A stupendously devious Rovesque lie or series of lies about Obama? A September surprise? October attack? Here? Elsewhere? Who knows? ) to see how well we’ve learned our lessons over the past 8 years. One thing is for certain: John McCain is continuing, unabated, down the very path laid by George Bush. The emperor is naked. Shall we follow? Or shall we take Obama’s lead and take this country in a better direction? 

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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** re: paragraph 2 from fatal flaw #2, above
 “Could” the Bush Administration Order the Torture of Children and Burying Alive of Prisoners? 

 

A simple yes or no would have sufficed. In this House Judiciary Hearing, White House attorneys John Yoo and David Addington are asked this very question, to determine the administration’s torture policies regarding children and burying prisoners alive.  Yoo and Addington are the two leading architects of the Bush administration’s policies on torture. Their testimony revealed few answers (none, actually), as even the simplest questions yielded evasive sleights-of-hand maneuvers, such as the sort of ‘legal speak’ lawyers are known to employ when evading answering a question. Here, with a 5-minute time limit on the testimony, we see the Judiciary committee members grow increasingly frustrated and, at turns, outraged (accusing Yoo, at one point, of playing “Beat the Clock”) as each attempt to get a straight answer is stonewalled by Yoo and Addington.  Longer versions of this testimony are available on YouTube.  

 

 

Pertinent articles & videos for more info: 

ABOVE: Former POW speaks: “John McCain is not the perso I’d like to see with his finger near the red button….John McCain’s temprement makes it clear that he’s not cut out to be president of the United States.”

ABOVE: John McCain’s heroism as a POW in the Vietnam conflict; this is making some waves in the news due to McCain’s presidential candidacy. The documentary “Missing, Presumed Dead the Search for America’s POWs” however focuses more on Senator John McCain successfully blocking the release of classified POW/MIA documents. Here is a DVD extra from that documentary. A DVD of the documentary may be purchased at www.MissingPresumedDead.com

Vietnam too far back? Here are some more recent veterans — our brave soldiers who served in Iraq — speaking on McCain in a short film, “Why Won’t McCain Sign the GI Bill?”. Here, we can see that McCain is at least consistent when it comes to supporing (NOT) veterans.  

ABOVE (2) : Greenwald Films: The Real McCain, Parts 1 & 2:  In reality, McCain seems as clueless on foreign policy as he is on the economy, on domestic policy, on the lives of ordinary Americans, and on what he, himself, states with utter conviction from one day to the next. 

The McCain Doctrine = The Bush Doctrine, in case you were wondering

Huffington Post: Not a Gaffe? McCain campaign willing to destroy relationship with Spain, Europe to conceal confusion

canarypapers: Monkeys with Molotovs: The gutter politics of McCain, Palin, Rove & Co.

canarypapers: On the occasion of the 7th anniversary of September 11th, a call for truth.

canarypapers: The Surge in Iraq: Ethnic Cleansing with Perks (This post contains many, many, many links to back up these two facts: (1) the war in Iraq is an illegal war, waged on false pretense and cooked intelligence, and (2) the surge is a farce, from start to finish. Many Americans already own these truths. McCain ignores these truths in favor of the fairy tale version of the Iraq war, spun by the Bush-Cheney Administration. McCain’s motives for this are myriad, not the least of which is his perpetual refusal to listen to the facts, or to admit when he’s wrong, or to change his mind, unless the truth corners him like a rat. His mind is made up, and, as the Spain interview showed, McCain doesn’t listen to anyone, once his mind is made up. Too, the fact is — and despite his protests to the contrary — the man rather likes a good war, the same way some people are drawn toward toward the tenets of peace, love, dipomacy and understanding.) 

The New Yorker: Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America’s ‘extraordinary rendition’ program

Harper’s Magazine: The Missing IG Report on Maher Arar

Harper’s Magazine: More on Maher Arar

CBC News: Maher Arar: Statement

CBS News: His Year in Hell: Maher Arar’s story, told to Vicki Mabrey

World Socialist Website: McCain-Bush “anti-torture” measure gives legal coverage for continued abuse

TalkLeft: the politics of crime: McCain torture policy undercut by amendment

ThinkProgress: McCain says he is ‘obviously’ against torture, forgets his vote to allow waterboarding

New York Times: Veto of Bill on CIA Tactics Affirms Bush’s Legacy

ProjectVote: McCain’s vote on the Military Commissions Act of 2006

Washington Post: McCain on Torture – Vote Against Waterboarding Bill Called Consistent

These two are filed under the “and the lies keep on coming” category. Read them in tandem, for context.

Washington Post: McCain Suggests Bush Has Approved Torture

ThinkProgress: McCain Sides with Bush on Torture Again — Supports Veto of Anti-Waterboarding Bill

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The Sarah Chronicles: A straight poop compendium of questions & answers on Sarah Palin

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“She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help…Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.” — quoted from A letter from someone who has known Sarah Palin since 1992.

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Got questions? We’ve got answers. Take your pick: Sarah’s record, her religion, her beliefs, her disbeliefs, censorship, scandals, abuse of power, truth, lies and consequences … You name it, it’s here. We’ll sort fact from fiction, with videos and links provided to verify any information we give. If you have a question you don’t see asked here, let us know. We’ll answer it faster than you can say, “Drill, baby, drill.” (actually, we post responses by the next morning). An ongoing project, the Sarah Chronicles will be published on an “as-we-go” basis. This page features our first installment: religion.
RELIGION

QUESTIONS: What’s this I hear about Sarah Palin’s religion — is it as scary as it sounds? And is this really any of our business?  

ANSWERS: Yes, and yes. As a rule, when a politician and her religious leaders prophecy that God wants her to drill for oil and gas to meet the needs of the apocalypse, it’s both scary and our business to know about it, particularly when that politician is on the VP ticket with John McCain, with built-in historical odds  that give her a 1 in 5 of likelihood of becoming president. 

THE FACTS: Sarah is a Pentecostal and belongs to the Wasilla Bible Church, said to be less extreme than her former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God. Both churches follow a literal translation of the Bible. Their views include the belief that church and state work together toward one destiny, which is to serve God’s purpose. As such, politicians — from mayors, to governors, to the president of the United States — are representatives of God, not the people.  Wasilla Bible Church draws 800-1000 worshippers each Sunday. Among their ministries are the Jews for Jesus program (which advocates converting Jews to Christianity, see video, below) and the Focus on Family conference (which promotes, among other things, curing or, as they prefer to call it, ‘overcoming’ homosexuality through the Love Won Out program). The McCain campaign, via spokeswoman Maria Comella, released a statement on Sarah Palin’s religion, describing her as being baptised Roman Catholic as an infant, but declined to comment further. “We’re not going to get into discussing her religion,” she said.

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BELOW is a video produced by the Wasilla Assembly of God for “The Masters Commission of Wasilla,” a group that Sarah Palin delivered a speech to (see separate videos, further down below, for Sarah’s speech to this group). The video, below, is a movie trailer to a longer recruitment film for the The Masters Commission of Wasilla. A deeper look at this group can be found at the Masters Commission website, here. According to the video, below (0:46) “Masters Commision is one of the keys in God’s plans for Alaska, the United States and the entire world…. You will walk away changed.”

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BELOW, Governor Sarah Palin speaks at her former church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, before the Master Commission Students. Following are a few pertinent quotes from her speech.  

(2:06) Here, Sarah calls on the congregation to pray for the $30 billion gas pipeline in Alaska: “God’s will has to be done in unifying  people and companies to get that gas-line built, so pray for that.”

(3:47) Here, Sarah calls for prayer over the soldiers being sent by our national leaders to Iraq, as they fulfill “a task that is from God”: “Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan, and that that plan is Gods’ plan. “

(6:16) Here, Sarah speaks on the role of Alaska’s oil and gas in the prophecy: “And this is what I want to pray over you guys, too, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory,  may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him and that spirit of revelation also including a spirit of prophecy that God’s gonna tell you what is going on, and what is going to go on, and you guys are gonna have that within you, and it’s just  going to bubble up, and bubble over, and it’s gonna pour out thoroughout the State of Alaska — again, good, good things in store for the State of Alaska. Let us pray for God’s will to be done here, for all of your destinies to be met in this state. There’s been so many words over the State of Alaska —  we being the head, not the tail — and I see things now in the works, it seems like things are — that’s coming to fruition — that things are percolating, that things are coming along, and — just praying for an outpouring of God’s spirit here, for that revival to be here in Alaska.”

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BELOW, in Part 2 of the above speech, both the current and former pastors of the Wasilla Assembly of God join Sarah in speaking on the prophecy and God’s will in the State of Alaska, believed by the church to be one of the “refuge states” during the last days. Following are pertinent quotes from the video.

(1: 05) Here, the pastor offers comments on (former pastor) Paul Reilly’s prayer for Sarah — an answered prayer, whereby Sarah was made governor, so that she could “do this next step”: “This is awesome, making a prophetic declaration and then unfolds the kingdom of god. You know, and so there’s the prophetic call.” 

(1:25) Here, the pastor continues speaking on prophecy, Alaska and Sarah Palin, as he declares it God’s will to tap into the natural resources of Alaska, with the belief that Alaska is one of the “refuge states,” where hundreds of thousands will flock during the last days. “I want you to please pray for Sarah, for Governor Sarah– there were some things about the natural resources, about the state, there were some things that God wants to tap into to be a refuge for the lower 48 –and I believe that Alaska’s one of the refuge states, come on you guys, in the last days, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to the state to seek refuge, and the church has to be ready to minister to them. Amen? So could you pray for our governor and what she’s requested?”

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Below is Part 1 of the Jews for Jesus sermon, themed, “Be More Jewish, Believe in Jesus” attended by Sarah and Todd Palin on August 17, 2008. The sermon was delivered by David Brickner at Sarah’s church, Wasilla Bible Church. See Part 2 of the sermon here, and Part 3 here)

 

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EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll add to/update this post as time allows.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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The Surge in Iraq: Ethnic Cleansing, with Perks

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To hear the mainstream media, the most pressing issue in Iraq right now is the surge. Not U.S. war crimes in Iraq; not ethnic cleansing; not torture; not the U.S. no-bid contracts for Iraqi oil. Not the fact that this is an illegal war to begin with (see video, below). Just the surge: Did it work? Did it reduce U.S. deaths? Was it a success? Did it help? Did it curb violence? Did it improve security in Iraq?

There are as many ways of asking the question as there are ways of answering it, and the sheer volume of questions exaggerates the urgency of the topic, much like the flag-pin flak that dominated headlines for several months this spring. This would be good news — the media’s current obsession with the surge — were it seeking to correct history, or even to correctly record history. Instead, the media seems to be working in concert with the Bush Administration to re-write history.

As is the case with most aspects of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, it will likely be 30 years or more before the history books catch up with the truth. For now, the best the truthsayers can hope for is that, against formidable odds, the issues of true urgency in Iraq and the rest of the world will sooner be given the attention — and ultimately the justice — that they deserve.

Enter Democracy, American Style

On July 14th, the New York Times published Obama’s forward-looking op-ed, titled, My Plan for Iraq, which focused on ending the war in Iraq. The next day, Obama purged his website of criticism toward the surge. This was likely in response to the growing media circus over Obama’s criticism of the surge, as the media doggedly ignores the dull nuances of actually ending the war in Iraq, in favor of muckraking new controversy over last year’s news. To this end, the media has been barraging both candidates with the same bald-faced question: Was the surge a success?

Here again, we’re seeing the fruit of the U.S. media, which operates under a perverse field-of-dreamsesque tactic to the delivering the news: if you can’t build a media circus with substance or facts, just start throwing shit — elephants, tent posts, camel dung, flag pins, rumors, rotton apples, innuendo and lies — and keep pitching it. The viewers will throng to see your discordant pile of bullshit and will be every bit as outraged as you want them to be.

Just yesterday, CBS aired a Katie Couric interview with Obama, in which Couric (who could have asked the likely next-president anything under the sun) instead pitched him a rotten apple: Was the surge a success? Did the surge — the addition of 30,000 additional troops — help the situation in Iraq? To this, Obama offered a detailed answer, with many nuances, which included his perspective that the surge in Iraq has spent resources that could have been spent in Afghanistan, where bin Laden is supposedly located. Couric — apparently not satisfied with the lack of fodder in Obama’s answer — re-phrased her question: Do you think the level of security in Iraq would exist today without the surge? (Read that: Are you patriotic? Do you love America as much as John McCain?)

Instantaneously, on the heels of this interview, the network broadcast Couric’s interview with John McCain — not to get his perspective on the surge, but to get his perspective on Obama’s perspective of the surge. To this end — while McCain’s name was utterly absent in Couric’s interview with Obama — 100% of the questions she posed to McCain were specifically about Obama — including her one comment in the interview, when she observed, “You sound very frustrated with Senator Obama’s perspective.”

If the grin on McCain’s face was any indication, he was more than happy to partake in Katie’s interview style. He began by parading his latest talking point: Obama would “rather lose the war than lose the campaign.” From here, he found a dozen different ways to chide Obama’s naivetee and to accuse him of denying “the sacrifice of brave young Americans.” At the end of the interview, Katie asked McCain about Barack Obama’s assertion that the war on terror is centered in Afghanistan, where 9-11 was planned. McCain argued that Iraq is the center in the war on terror. And to back this up, he recited a quote, which he attibuted to bin Laden: Go to the country of the two rivers.

If those words sound like lofty, Big Chief-to-Kimosabe dialogue, straight out of a B-grade western, you’ll have to consider their true source: a convoluted trail of sources, actually, that winds through Washington, intersecting with a cowboy from Crawford, Texas and another from Wyoming, before resuming its torturous route through the Middle East, into Iraq, then back again.

The Land of the Two Rivers.

Even tho it’s faster to just say Iraq, there are some people — and McCain’s apparently one of them — who find it faster to say the land of the two rivers. This is because the phrase has become code, in military circles — an efficient form of verbal shorthand for drawing a political-geographical-historical connection between Al Qaeda terrorists, Iraq, 9-11 and Osama bin Laden.

For the uninitiated, ‘the land of the two rivers’ refers not to Iraq, per se, but to al Qaeda in Iraq, which goes by the name, Tandhim Qa’idat Al-Jihad fi bilad Al-Rafidain, which translates roughly to The Al Qeada Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers. This was the official name assigned to Al Qaeda in Iraq when it formed in 2004. (NOTE: Pause here to reflect on the fact that Al Qaeda did not exist in Iraq until one year after the U.S. invasion). Since then, this phrase has been oft repeated in the many purported Al Qaeda missives and messages purportedly sent by Osama bin Laden and Al-Zarqawi, and purportedly posted on various jihadist websites. The ‘two rivers’ phrase has also become a staple item on some U.S. websites — from McCain’s campaign website, to the White House website, to various right-wing havens. While I’ve yet to discover any of the purported jihadist websites, nor even the names of these purported jihadist websites that purportedly, originally posted these purported terrorist messages, I’m sure they must exist, because the White House tells us so.

There are some who believe that most, if not all, of these terrorist messages are counterfeit — sourced out of thin air, or from “intelligence” gathered from torture sessions, then manufactured and released by the propaganda machines of our own government and AIPAC . Regardless, this has nothing and everything to do with Barack Obama.

The Circus Comes to Town

As Obama and his predecessor John Kerry well know — when it comes to matters of flag, country and war — it takes only the slightest perversion of the facts to twist public perception. And the Republicans are masters of the smear, which is why McCain repeatedly seeds the media with statements such as, “Obama was wrong about the surge and refuses to acknowledge that fact.” McCain’s hope, here, is that one of these seeds will take root and grow into a full-fledged smear: Obama is a terrorist appeaser; he’s weak on war; he’s unpatriotic; he’s unAmerican. And the U.S. media scans every inflection of every word — ever-ready to pitch the next circus.

Fact is, Obama was right: the surge was wrong. Fact is, McCain was also right: the surge was a success. But not for the reasons you’ve heard. The surge was a success because, in 2007, we began paying our enemy to stop killing us. The surge was a success because we hired and armed tens of thousands of these enemies — Sunni insurgents — to work side-by-side with U.S. soldiers, despite that only weeks earlier, these same Sunnis had been ambushing and killing Americans. The surge was a success because, at the moment we began paying and arming these Sunnis, we officially began funding and arming both sides in the civil war.

The surge was a success because the 30,000+ U.S. troops sent to Iraq provided the necessary manpower to implement the concurrent surge of 90,000 Sunni insurgent troops we were hiring. The surge is working because these 90,000 Sunnis — along with the 450,000 Shiites security forces already in the U.S. employ — are doing just as the U.S. directs: carrying out the ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing — Sunnis against Shiites, and Shiites against Sunnis — called “the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history” . By intensifying the divisions (and, in some cases, creating division where none existed before) the U.S. undermines the goal of reconciliation and compromise between Shiites and Sunnis .

The media, working under the auspices of our government, reports this dynamic as a “refusal” of the Iraqi government to take control. This myth (which seems to suggest that Iraqis are too lazy or corrupt to take control of their own country) will continue to be reported and will continue to be swallowed by the American public, so long as the U.S. can fuel rage between the Sunnis and Shiites. But only so long as the U.S. keeps funding this civil war — paying Sunnis to brutalize Shiites, and paying Shiites to brutalize Sunnis.

Lest we forget, this is a war for gas and oil. A unified Iraq serves no good purpose in this war. The surge is working because the U.S. has made great strides in dividing Iraq into a more conquerable state.

If this sounds foreign to you, it’s not because I’m a raving conspiracy theorist, but because most of what we’ve been told about the surge is a lie. Fact is, however, most Americans — whether by naivetee or choice — prefer to believe the propaganda, to the extent that, when they do hear a morsel of truth, they turn away in disbelief, either because it is too horrible to contemplate, or because it seems too incredible to be true.

Our administration and our media have conditioned us to do this — to relegate all anti-Bush news into the realm of the tin-foil hat conspiracy theorists. And this would be just fine with me, if not for the fact that these disbelieving Americans, who enjoy such a complacent ignorance of the facts, are the same Americans who will be electing our next president, not to mention our representatives on Capitol Hill.

The fact is, were the voting American public more informed about the facts, our politicians wouldn’t be compelled to campaign from both sides of the fence: addressing the real truth, while also pandering to the Bush Administration’s version of the truth, as perpetuated by the media and swallowed — hook, line and sinker — by the American public. If Americans were truly paying attention — which would require considering the validity of uncomfortable and often outrageous truths — our elected officials could not *get away* with doing this — with capitulating on their party’s policies, based not on facts, but on the public’s perception of the facts, as woven by a propaganda-driven media that is bereft of the facts. This is part and parcel of how we got into this war in the first place.

Pleasant Truths vs. Dry Statistics

When was the last time the evening news mentioned the 100,000 Iraqis who have been killed during this war? Or ethnic cleansing? Or the millions of Iraqis violently displaced from their homes? When you hear on the evening news that the surge is a success, you can believe it, so long as you understand, “For whom?”

The death toll of 4000, reached by American soldiers over a period of 5 years has been reached more than 25 times by Iraqi citizens. During the first 7 months of the surge, alone (February-August 2007), a total of 4000 Iraqi men, women and children were killed every 7 weeks. Using the most conservative of estimates, a total of 17,117 Iraqi men, women and children were killed during the first 7 months of the surge. That’s an average of 81 people killed each day. That’s 2445 people killed each month — more deaths, even, than before the surge, when the average daily death was a staggering 79 per day. In May 2007, alone, the Iraqi death toll was only 20 fewer people than were killed on September 11th on U.S. soil.

Before your eyes completely glaze over from math fatigue, consider this: The monthly death toll was instantly cut in half after August 2007. And the trend continued, so that — to date — Iraqi deaths averaged 36 per day, instead of 81.

What happened? What happened during August 2007 to cause such a sudden, dramatic decline in Iraqi deaths?

Bush-Cheney-Petraeus would like us to believe it was the success of the surge — despite that the level of violence only grew during the first 7 months of the surge. A more logical explanation would be the ceasefire declared in August 2007 by one of our ‘enemies — Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Shiite Mahdi Army, who opposes the U.S. occupation as strongly as he opposed the Saddam Hussein regime. Many of the Mahdi Army leaders are, in fact, former political prisoners who suffered torture under Saddam Hussein. Maqtada al-Sadr’s unilateral ceasefire in August 2007 was said to be in response — not to the surge — but in effort to weaken the rogue elements that had infiltrated his army and committed violence in their name, which ran contrary to their cause. Whatever the reasons for the ceasefire, it instantly cut the Iraqi death toll in half. Just like that.

Well, sort of….

There’s the Surge, and then there’s the Surge

When Bush announced the surge in his January 2007 address to Americans, most of us heard the part about sending 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. What we missed was the *other* surge he annonced: “We will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance,” In plainspeak, Bush was announcing the addition of 90,000 Sunni insurgents to the U.S. military, being armed and paid — on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime — to work as security forces. Bush failed to mention, however, that our new “Iraqi forces” were actually Saddam Hussein’s former henchmen, who had been working side-by-side with al Qaeda for the previous several years — ambushing and killing American soldiers.

On the heels of Bush’s speech, it became necessary to re-define the enemy, to un-demonize the Sunni insurgents: No longer were Sunnis the enemy; only ‘extremist’ Sunnis were enemies. This was necessary, if for no other reason than to gain Congressional approval for the $150 million budget (received) to hire, train, arm and sometimes bribe these Sunni insurgents. And, because this plan looked as bad on the surface as it truly was, military commanders in charge of recruiting these Sunni security forces were officially, for the record, ordered to “not deal with those who have American blood on their hands.” As if this blood could literally be seen on their hands, or as if the “bad” insurgents would have, tattooed on their foreheads, “I killed Americans.”

Equally important to un-demonizing our Sunni enemies, was the need to un-demonize our own history with these Sunnis, so that the U.S. military could make the transition from hunting down, torturing and executing Sunnis, to hiring them to work side-by-side with our own military. This strategy must surely have seemed odd to those 450,000 Shiites — still in the employ of the U.S. military — who had spent the past several years torturing and killing innocent Sunni citizens and insurgents alike, while displacing them from their homes in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Yes, the U.S. strategy of hiring Sunnis to work with our security forces must have seemed awfully odd to the thousands of Shiites in U.S. employ, working with the U.S.-backed Badr Brigade (not to be confused with the Sadr Army) in Iraqi interior ministry, who’d spent the past 3 years working in the infamous U.S.-backed Wolf Brigade Death Squads (see video, below), terrorizing, torturing and ultimately executing Sunnis — many of whom were forced to make public confessions before being executed, with their confessions broadcast on the show titled, “Terrorism in the Grip of Justice,” (a joint effort between MEMRI and the U.S.) which aired six nights per week during the spring of 2005 on the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya television network.

To engineer a fragile peace, the U.S. military created and backed dozens of new Sunni militias, which now operate beyond the control of Iraq’s central government.

To make this transition more palatable, our government began calling these former Sunni insurgents, “volunteers.” To date, the U.S. military employs approx. 90,000 of these volunteers at the rate of $360 per month, plus weapons and ammunition. The Sunni sheiks who oversee these ‘volunteers’ receive an average of $8000 per month. These salaries are but a tiny fraction of that $150 million total allocation in the 2008 U.S. budget to pay off these Sunni insurgents and their sheiks. These soldiers go by various euphemisms, such as Iraqi Security Volunteers, or ISVs; neighborhood watch groups; Concerned Local Citizens; Critical Infrastructure Security; Sahwa; or, most famously, the Sunni Awakening. The U.S. military’s use of the term “volunteer” with these soldiers is particularly misleading, as is implies these Sunnis are somehow volunteering their time in the name of Iraqi security. Or, perhaps our government merely views these Sunnis as being like our own military — serving in a volunteer, rather than a compulsory capacity.

What’s Next?

In his prepared testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in April 2008, Nir Rosen commented on the U.S. military’s stance in arming both sides in a civil war:

“David Kilcullen, the influential Australian counter insurgency advisor (to Petreaus), defined it as ‘balancing competing armed interest groups.’ Though supporters of the war touted the surge as a success, they forgot that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis who have been killed, the millions displaced, and the thousands of dead and wounded Americans just so that violence could go back to the still horrifying levels of just a couple of years ago.”

Recognized at its inception as a tricky ploy (paying off and arming America’s enemies to act like America’s friends) this strategy at least — along with Sadr’s ceasefire –worked to lower the death toll of both Iraqis and Americans. Hence, the success of the surge. Problem is, while arming both sides in a civil war to work as “security forces,” the U.S. has not undermined the supposed goal of forging Iraqi unity, but we have created a deadly house of cards.

As Nir Rosen earlier observed in his March 2008 Rolling Stone article, titled, The Myth of the Surge, “Loyalty that can be purchased is, by its very nature, fickle.”

With only the slightest provacation, either side in this civil war — both now armed to the teeth with U.S. weaponry — could turn their weapons against U.S. soldiers. It’s no wonder, then, that Petraeus has repeatedly urged caution over the current lull in violence, terming it a “fragile and reversible” peace, while simultaneously pushing for a “pause” in any planned troop withdrawals after July 2008.

One of many tent cities spanning the horizons throughout Iraq. Here, the people lack food, water, electricity and other basic needs of human existence. They are also prey to marauding killers. Human displacement is but facet of the U.S. strategy in Iraq (divide & conquer the citizenry for easier plundering of their oil resources). This tactic has resulted in what’s been called “the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history.” One could infer from this that the U.S. even topped Saddam, in terms of inhumanity and ethnic cleansing.
Our Fragile Peace in Iraq: A multi-trillion-dollar death contraption made of spit, baling wire and duct tape, held together with a pack of lies
Our fragile peace in Iraq has been accomplished by the U.S. strategy of funding two sides in a civil war and empowering both to kill and displace one another, resulting in what’s been called, “the worst human displacement in Iraq’s modern history” . By intensifying the divisions between the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis — and making impossible any sort of unity in Iraq — the U.S. can continue to tout the myth of the Iraqi government’s “refusal” to take control of their government. That is, so long as we continue to fund their civil war and to back ethnic cleansing — paying Sunnis to displace Shiites and paying Shiites to displace Sunnis.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel, not one to mince words, hit the nail on the head when he observed:

“Obviously the tactic of bribing the Sunni warlords will fail the minute we stop bribing them. And then of course the cowardly act of blaming Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki for the failure in Basra, of saying it was all his initiative, when we were totally complicit.”

In a perfect world, every politician of good conscience would be railing against 7 years of lies, and would be unafraid to stand side-by-side with Wexler, Kucinich, Baldwin, Hinchey , Holtzman & Barr and others who are daring to speak the truth on Capitol Hill. Instead, we live in a world where those rare truthsayers on Capitol Hill — such as Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Cynthia McKinney — are belittled, ridiculed, ignored, painted as nuts, hacks, conspiracy theorists and terrorist appeasers, and ultimately driven out of town on a rail.

For this reason, and this reason alone, I am willing to temporarily suspend my disgust at Obama for deleting his criticism of the surge, not to mention his equally reprehensible backslide on the FISA bill. I do this in the hope that his eye is ultimately on the bigger picture, that he is merely being pragmatic, trying to avoid the sort of dog and pony show that could potentially — and against all that is sane and rational in this world — swiftboat his candidacy. My hope is that Obama hasn’t truly lost his bearings, but that he indeed *gets it* as I’ve clearly heard him articulate in many of his speeches and statements. My hope is that he indeed intends to do the right thing by this country and this planet — not the least of which is to purge from our national dialogue the lies we’ve been conditioned to believing for the past 7 years. This is a war for oil. And no amount of spin can change the fact that it is just plain wrong.

NOTE: THIS POST WAS TRANFERRED FROM A PREVIOUS CANARYPAPERS BLOG (SAME NAME, DIFFERENT SERVER). FOR SOME REASON, THE FORMATTING DIDN’T MAKE A SMOOTH TRANSFER. OUR APOLOGIES FOR THE DISCORDANT APPEARANCE/LAYOUT OF THE TEXT.