Intravenous Caffeine

Totally Unfair and Completely Unbalanced

An Anniversary Nobody Really Cheered About

Well, at least we kept Peoria from being nuked by Saddam Hussein...

Please Note: the Anniversary Cake is Yellow

Last week, we saw the passing of the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq war—ooops, excuse me, Congress never declared war, so, ummmm, what do we call it?

When the airplanes struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, somewhere amid the horror of what I was seeing rose an additional realization, “Oh, my God, we’ve just had our Reichstag Fire.” I could see with horrifying clarity that this would be the defining moment that turned the United States from its democratic principles to something totally antithetical to the dreams of our nation’s Fathers. We have resisted the impulse of creating concentration camps for Moslems–we incarcerated many, but mostly exiled them for visa transgressions. We have created gulags where we gathered a mostly hapless group of alleged terrorists whose major crime seems to have been being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the wrong person wanted to collect a reward. We HAVE built massive PRISONS, but these are privately run camps to provide slave labor and corporate profit and anyone can enter. We passed the grossly obscene “Patriot” act through which almost any crime can be considered to be an act of terrorism–when the need arises.

Our incursion into Afghanistan almost looked legitimate. We claimed the head of, what was his name, Osama bin Laden? Yes, he was there, later on he claimed credit for “9/11″, which our government was already doing within minutes of the tower falls–since it had pointedly ignored the warnings from the intelligence community of terrorist actions inside the US. He was there, but the Taliban government had the nerve to ask for evidence before they would consider handing him over. So like a western posse, we went in and cleaned up the corruption in Rock Ridge and hunted down bin Laden until we were just yards from his hiding place in the mountains when…

Wait, what? The real danger is from Iraq? The country which had been under UN sanctions for a decade? Whose dictator, Saddam Hussein, couldn’t even afford to buy shoes for his army? HE had weapons of mass destruction? Yes, we had the ominous YELLOW CAKE requests–which turned out to be forgeries. We had George Bush and Tony Blair smirking their way into war. We had Dick Cheney and Condi Rice promising us mushroom clouds of doom if nothing was done immediately. We had a mountain of evidence that Colin Powell presented at the UN. I remember listening to him and being absolutely convinced by the man’s sense of sincerity… until the next morning, when I realized that all that evidence had no context. That if you believed it was something bad it was, but those conversations about hiding things could have just as easily been hiding the porn when the inspectors arrived.

And so we went off and destroyed a country within weeks. Killed several thousand Americans and maimed 10s of thousands. Killed 100s of thousands Iraqis and destroyed the infrastructure of the country. Wasted around two trillion dollars (when asked about the loss of a trillion dollars from the Pentagon budgets, Donald Rumsfeld remarked, “I’ll have to look into that,” and didn’t) which the Tea Party is now trying to collect from the poorest among us. For which sinful errors of judgment or outright acts of war-mongering for profit no one has been held accountable.

Many of us felt powerless to do anything to stop it. Only after the deed was done did I decide that I could do a political cartoon series against these criminals. I was scared too–protesting the war COULD have been considered an act of terrorism according to the Patriot Act.


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Hey, we still have troops in Germany and Japan 65 years later…

Ho-hum--combat troops gone? What about all the troops?

Hey, they're only there to help train the Iraqi army--which hasn't gotten it together in the last 6 years

Only 7 years and change later and we finally have less than 100k troops in a place we should never have invaded in the first place. Remember those heady days after 9/11 when people all over middle America were convinced that Saddam Hussein was going to nuke their mall in the next two days? The mushroom clouds that Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were predicting would be our doom unless we took out Iraq NOW! Those aerial photographs of Carvel trucks that Colin Powell assured us were delivering yellow cake instead of ice cream cake? Such a relief there was when the Marines staged that toppling of Saddam’s statue so it would look like the Iraqis themselves were pulling the ropes!

But by the time we found out that there WERE no weapons of mass destruction, and Saddam had nothing to do at all with 9/11, the “Pottery Barn” scenario–you break it, you bought it–was in full swing (and we were even wrong about the Pottery Barn’s policies!) and it was too late to say “Whoopsie-daisy!” And for the last seven years, we’ve been bollixing up a country that was continuously on the verge of civil war with the only thing which the various factions could seem to agree on was that they didn’t WANT US!

Since Obama was elected, we’ve been drawing down our forces in Iraq–so we could throw them into the other quagmire in Afghanistan. And now, the last of our “combat troops” will be leaving, with only 50,000 “support” troops remaining–whatever the hell THAT is. Remember what we called them in Vietnam? “Advisors.” Well, maybe their mission WILL be to train that untrainable Iraqi self-defense force, but troops is troops. The real reason they’re there is so we will have a presence on the ground in the Mideast WHEN we need them. And it only cost us a couple of trillion dollars to boot!

Fox News only devoted 10 minutes of airtime to this momentous event and some people are crowing about the lackluster coverage the war’s chief cheerleaders have given to the transition. But seriously–is it anything to write home about? As Dennis Kucinich has observed, this is just a new phase in the PR campaign. We’re not going to leave Iraq for some time. Ten years? Remember, we still have troops in Germany and Japan!

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More Torture Memo Fun: Shepard Smith Finds a Conscience

Not-So-Innocent Condoleezza After All

Not-So-Innocent Condoleezza After All

Do you realize that Dick Cheney has seen the surface world more times in the last three months than in his entire tenure as Vice President? As usual, his current surfacings have been to tell us how bad a President Barack Obama is, how he’s endangering us with his reckless transparency and, of course, how effective our torture program was to gain information. Of course, we can’t find out if this is true because the documents are classified but Darth Cheney, aka, the Penguin, told us he made a formal request that they be declassified. Well, guess what? He isn’t VP anymore, just an ordinary mortal like the rest of us. He COULD have declassified the information himself before he left office, but naturally he assumed that Obama would just shut up about his predecessors misdeeds since that is the way the game has traditionally worked. But it seems Cheney didn’t ask the CIA about this, he made a FOIA request to the National Archives who, as of 2006, were 4 millions pages behind in filling FOIA requests. I don’t think they’ve caught up.
But what intel did we get? Marcy Wheeler of the Empty Wheel Blog dug through the 9/11 commission reports and found only 10 pieces of information obtained through the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. The first three, to give examples of the quality of info we got, were: 1. “Abu Zubaydah describes his role running the Khaldan and Derunta training camps.” 2. “Abu Zubaydah describes Rahim al-Nashiri’s success as a recruiter.” 3. “AZ describes Bin Laden’s popularity.” (See Marcy Wheeler: 83 Waterboardings, 10 Pieces of Intel in the Huffington Post. Wow, that must have saved innumerable lives, Mr. Cheney.
Notice however, that Cheney never really addresses the moral issue of whether or not we should torture. His argument is strictly, “It’s effective, therefore we should do it.” And apart from being little Miss Innocent, it’s seems Condi (Condoleezza) Rice was actually one of the FIRST to OK waterboarding Rice OK’d CIA waterboard request as Bush adviser. All the top people, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and Tenet were involved. Only Colin Powell appears to have been out of the loop, but remember, CIA is part of the State Department, which he headed.
In other news, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has a new growth someplace on his body. It looks like…a conscience! I’m sure the Fox News health plan provides for the removal of these growths, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at HIS reaction to the memo problem. We have to agree with Shep’s response to Cheney. It doesn’t matter if it works. We’re America. We don’t torture.

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