Alexander Cockburn from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Wed, 21 Apr 2021 02:30:39 -0700 Alexander Cockburn from Creators Syndicate f8e29c088e77727779967ced6e108bfc The End of America's Armies for 07/13/2012 Fri, 13 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, bounced out of his job for revels in Paris as witnessed by Rolling Stone, has recycled a perennial chestnut: Bring back the draft &mdash; i.e., a conscripted military, not the volunteer military of today.</p> <p>These days, McChrystal teaches at Yale University with what must be a protection unique in the annals of academic freedom. Everything he tells his students is, by contractual agreement, off the record. But he made his proposal about the draft in a public venue, at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. McChrystal said: &quot;I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn't be solely represented by a professional force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population. I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.&quot;</p> <p>It's certainly true that the volunteer military is a mess. The Associated Press reported recently that suicides are surging among the troops. According to the AP, &quot;the 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan.&quot; The volunteer military struggles with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 548199a6389e1072d37b6bc2dd4364c4 Epitaph to a Dead Movement for 07/06/2012 Fri, 06 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>It was very hard not to be swept away by the Occupy movement, which established itself in New York's Zuccotti Park last September and soon spread to Oakland, Calif., Chicago, London and Madrid. And indeed most people didn't resist its allure. Leninists threw aside their Marxist primers on party organization and drained the full anarchist cocktail.</p> <p>The Occupiers seemed to have a complicated way of communicating with each other &mdash; finger gestures were important. And as with all movements involving consensus, everything took a very long time. Was there perhaps a leader, a small leadership group, sequestered somewhere among the tents and clutter? It was impossible to say and at that point, somewhat disloyal to pose the question. Cynicism about Occupy was not a popular commodity. But new movements always need a measure of cynicism dumped on them. An Occupy gathering was like being in church. Questions of organization were obliterated by the strength of the basic message &mdash; we are the 99 percent; they are the 1 percent. It was probably the most successful slogan since &quot;peace, land, bread.&quot;</p> <p>The Occupy Wall Street assembly in Zuccotti Park soon developed its own cultural mores, drumming included. Like many onlookers, I asked myself, &quot;Where the hell was the plan?&quot; But I held my tongue. I had no particular better idea and for a CounterPuncher of mature years to start laying down the program seemed cocky. But, deep down, I felt that Occupy, with all its fancy talk, all its endless speechifying, was riding for a fall.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 87a65c7f6cd468077a130ac980618ace The Affordable Care Act: Decision Effects for 06/29/2012 Fri, 29 Jun 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p><em> It's </em> tempting to say the Affordable Care Act decision spells the end of the Romney candidacy. The Mormon millionaire was entirely blindsided by yesterday's long-awaited verdict from the U.S. Supreme Court, as were almost all Republicans who had spent months complacently totting up a conservative majority, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, and then Lo! here's Roberts saying the famous unfunded mandate is constitutional. People <em> can </em> be compelled to pay taxes for their health insurance.</p> <p>Romney said rather limply, &quot;What the Court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do was say that Obamacare is good law or that it's good policy.&quot; He said the ruling had made it clear: &quot;If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have replace President Obama.&quot; Then he flourished the slogan: &quot;Repeal or replace.&quot; President Obama drove his point home with a politician's usual piety. &quot;I didn't do this because I thought it was good politics,&quot; he said, touting the Act's provisions to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, to allow children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' plans and to require insurers to provide free preventive screenings. &quot;I did it because I believed it was good for this country.&quot;</p> <p>Obama said that even as implementation of the Act continues, it could be improved upon. But the court ruling allows the country to avoid, as Obama put it, going back to &quot;fight the political battles of two years ago&quot; when the law was passed.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> aab7d909540c1160d3ebe6f98441193c The Ongoing Farce of the Green Summits for 06/22/2012 Fri, 22 Jun 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>The predictable word is in from Rio de Janeiro: failure. The conference 20 years on from the huge 1992 Earth Summit in Rio has been unable to produce even the pretense of an energetic verbal commitment of the world's community to sustainable principles.</p> <p>The reason? These conferences have always been a fraud, lofted on excited green rhetoric and larded with ominous advisories that &quot;this time we cannot afford to fail&quot; and that &quot;the tipping point&quot; is finally here. But failure has been a loyal companion, and many a tipping point has tipped without amiss. There is no such thing as a world &quot;community.&quot; There are rich nations and poor nations, and the former will never accede willingly to the agendas of the latter, however intricate the language of the final windy &quot;declaration.&quot; The word &quot;sustainable&quot; has long been drained of all meaning.</p> <p>The general absurdity of these Earth Summits &mdash; Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen, Durban and now Rio again &mdash; is summed up in what the green forces hoped this time could be a concluding declaration to which enough nations could fix their name and declare victory for the planet. Originally, it was to be the commitment to a &quot;green world&quot; but not enough nations cared for that, so the fallback face-saver was a plan for a U.N. treaty to protect the international high seas.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 7242e464676393f149813f86683bd4d7 Cuomo's Proposal for 06/15/2012 Fri, 15 Jun 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Last week there was much rejoicing when Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, flanked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, came out in support of ending the practice of arresting individuals for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view.</p> <p>The details here are very important. These arrests come in consequence of stop-and-frisk police powers &mdash; used across the country &mdash; otherwise known as a Terry stop (OK'd by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968) under which a cop may briefly detain a person upon reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime but short of probable cause to arrest. When a search for weapons is also authorized, the procedure is known as a stop-and-frisk.</p> <p>In the Bloomberg years in New York City, stop-and-frisks have gone through the roof. In 2002, when Bloomberg had only just stepped into the Mayor's office, 97,296 New Yorkers were stopped by the police under stop and frisk. Out of those, 80,176 were totally innocent, 82 percent.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 4c600d3d9e5cd9e6899732fab33cbccd Obama and Marijuana: A Great Betrayal? for 06/06/2012 Wed, 06 Jun 2012 21:00:00 -0700 <p>A heart in love will decipher every squiggle in the letter as a kiss. In the final days of the 2008 campaign and in the opening ones of his administration, President Obama and his top legal aides seemed to the eager ears of marijuana legalizers on the West Coast to be opening the door to a new, sensible era. </p> <p>Here was the basic line as dispensed by Attorney General Eric Holder on March 18, 2009: &quot;The policy is to go after those people who violate both federal and state law. To the extent that people do that and try to use medical marijuana laws (such as California's Prop 215) as a shield for activity that is not designed to comport with what the intention was of the state law, those are the organizations, the people, that we will target. And that is consistent with what the president said during the campaign.&quot;</p> <p>The next day drug activists exulted in a big win.<p>Updated: Wed Jun 06, 2012</p> b491ec911d5ebabf1af6a74fe0ad9e26 Auctioning off the Presidency From the Pentagon Battlements for 06/01/2012 Fri, 01 Jun 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Let me whisk you to 1980 on one of Obama's miracle drones. </p> <p>In the right-center we had incumbent President Jimmy Carter, derided as a man of peace, el wimpo. </p> <p>True, his top foreign policy man was an unreconstructed Polish Cold War warrior burning to bring the Soviet Union to its knees. True, the two had launched the largest covert operation in the CIA's history &mdash; $3.5 billion - against the Soviets in Afghanistan. <p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 3699f600555d51facade41806db010bd Brave New World, Brave New Majority for 05/25/2012 Fri, 25 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The news is in. White births are no longer a majority in the United States. The Bureau of the Census confirms that non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 of all births in the year ending July 2011, while minorities &#8212; including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race &#8212; reached 50.4 percent.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I felt lonely and went out on the porch and hollered for my neighbor, a white German-American. Nothing stirred. I went back to my computer. At least someone is thinking constructively. The World Wildlife Fund says we need two planets. The rationale is that we create too much waste for one, but the roots of American environmentalism were always nourished by dislike of &quot;those of mixed race,&quot; and some over there at WWF have got their thinking cap on.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Is whitey ready for a fresh start? Face it, we may be a minority, but we got the firepower.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> d199bd19ee974e3b1d5d51aabd4de5f4 Gay Marriage and the Shackles of Matrimony for 05/18/2012 Fri, 18 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>I think gay marriage is an incredibly boring subject; though, I do like to hear right-wingers say that it will bring the whole edifice of Western civilization crashing down. It's hard, these days, to find such messages of good cheer. I don't yearn for such a union, so I have no personal stake in the issue. Occasionally, my gay friends tell me they've got married. They never seem especially exuberant.</p> <p>So the liberal progressives glory in Obama's &quot;courage&quot; and many a doubting heart is lighter and more forgiving about the president's betrayals. Trashing the Constitution, green lighting torture, and claiming the unilateral right to order the execution of anyone, anywhere on the planet ... wiped clean off the windscreen.</p> <p>It started with lesbian couples in Vermont in the mid-1990s, freaked out they'd lose their babies. Vermont Freedom to Marry was born, and it is now the most powerful democratic organization in the state. It is most certainly responsible for the victory of Gov. Peter Shumlin, who was elected in Nov. 2010 and who, nine months later, was the first sitting governor in the United States to preside over a same-sex wedding ceremony. <p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> b80660fb2b4b9dc65185a0ddd3c1df56 Police Brutality for 05/11/2012 Fri, 11 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Let's suppose that the blind Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, remains spunky once he's settled in at New York University and gets some time during the summer to join an Occupy demonstration, along with his wife.</p> <p>Here's what they might reasonably expect by way of treatment from the NYPD, if we are to believe &mdash; which I do &mdash; a report on new police strategies against protestors by David Graeber, anthropologist and creative force in the Occupy movement.</p> <p>Graeber begins with a conversation with an old friend:<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> db90768435278a67e02a07f387973a1c It's Clear: Europeans Have Had Enough! for 05/04/2012 Fri, 04 May 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Watch Europe tip left and right as voters rise in fury against the austerity menu that's been bringing them to utter ruin. In Holland, the right-wing Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders, brought down the governing coalition on Monday bellowing his defiance for the &quot;diktats from Brussels,&quot; and asserting, &quot;We must be master of our own house.&quot; Labor and Christian Democrats, Holland's major parties, are crumbling.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Almost certainly doomed is France's Nicolas Sarkozy, with Francois Hollande poised to win in the second round, but the National Front Party's Marine Le Pen's fiery, anti-banker populism has reaped her deserved rewards. As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes in the Daily Telegraph: &quot;Elected governments have already been swept away &#8212; or replaced by EU technocrats without a vote, indeed to prevent a vote &#8212; in every eurozone state where unemployment has reached double-digits: Spain (23.6 percent), Greece (21 percent), Portugal (15 percent), Ireland (14.7 percent) and Slovakia (14 percent).&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What will Chancellor Angela Merkel do as the pan-European mutiny against austerity rises? With her ally Sarkozy in all likelihood gone, it's Germany that's looking isolated. Will Francois Hollande be up to the task of forcing a change of step for Europe and Keynesian reflation? I wish I had confidence in the man, but I don't, even though he was more spirited in Tuesday's <i> mano a mano </i> TV debate with Sarkozy than I'd expected. Marine Le Pen has the fire, no doubt about that.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> ad4b5181f0ad53e50335f1bf86362059 When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed for 04/27/2012 Fri, 27 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Are American lives cheaper than those of the Chinese? It's a question raised by Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, who has just published a compelling comparison between the way the Chinese dealt with one of their drug scandals &mdash; melamine in baby formula &mdash; and how the U.S. handled the Vioxx disaster. </p> <p>In September 2004, Merck, one of America's largest pharmaceutical companies, issued a sudden recall of Vioxx, its anti-pain medication widely used to treat arthritis-related ailments. </p> <p>There was a fair amount of news coverage after the recall, but it was pretty slim considering the alleged 55,000 death toll. A big class-action lawsuit dragged its way through the courts for years, eventually being settled for $4.85 billion in 2007. <p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> ceb7d09c6397752a854c1b31861c7f10 Romney Could Turn a Tie Into a Lead for 04/20/2012 Fri, 20 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>A medium-sized thunderbolt has crashed down amid the somewhat torpid early stages of the presidential campaign. A New York Times/CBS poll of registered voters, released Wednesday, shows President Obama and the assured Republican nominee Mitt Romney running neck and neck, at 46 percent each.</p> <p>Only last month the same poll was showing Obama with a modest lead, as Romney slugged his way through the last round of primaries. The dead-heat news demolishes the house wisdom of the political commentariat, which was that his battles with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich for the right-wing vote in the contest for the Republican nomination had damaged Romney's standing with the broad mass of independents who will actually decide the outcome of the election next November and that it would take him some months to restore his mainstream credibility.</p> <p>The poll suggests that people were not too bothered by Romney's gyrations. Now that Romney is the assured nominee, awaiting only the formality of coronation at the party convention in Tampa, Fla., at the end of the summer, they're viewing him in exactly the contours that so dismayed his right-wing foes: as a mainstream Republican candidate.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 4fd7e75c037520ac32d16b589ef89c52 Farewell Gastro-Porn: Is the Foodie Frenzy Finally Fizzling Out? for 04/13/2012 Fri, 13 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>As two high-profile U.S. restaurants close and food critics take a step back, is this the end an era?</p> <p><i> This </i> has been a bad year for grand restaurants in the three- to four-star range, and the clang of their closing doors raises the question &mdash; is the whole gastro frenzy that stirred into life in the mid-1970s finally lurching towards closure? Goodbye Iron Chefs, sayonara, and &quot;molecular gastronomy&quot; in the style of Ferran Adria. Farewell to those overcooked paragraphs of fine restaurant writing that became the hottest reading in The New York Times.</p> <p>On March 7, the high society eatery La Cote Basque (actually used as a chapter heading in Truman Capote's &quot;Answered Prayers&quot;) closed its doors. This last Wednesday, The New York Times mourned at length the Chicago restaurant Charlie Trotter's, slated for extinction in August. According to the Times, Trotter's &quot;had a huge and lasting impact on Chicago's culinary landscape, if not the nation's.&quot;<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> e7d363e81259cd7fd730b91b6034075b Mitt Romney Flip-Flops His Way to the Top for 04/06/2012 Fri, 06 Apr 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Mitt Romney will be the Republican to face President Obama in the fall. Tuesday night was the clincher, as the former Massachusetts governor won in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C. He may stumble on, but the Catholic zealot Rick Santorum is finished, wiped out by Romney's vast financial resources.</p> <p>Eight years ago, Romney began his bid to win the Republican nomination, only to be crushed by John McCain. In that campaign, he was tagged as a crypto-liberal former governor of Massachusetts and author of a health plan derided by Democratic candidate Barack Obama.</p> <p>Week after tedious week in his second bid, Romney has had to stab his own plan in the back, lashed by his Republican opponents as the true originator of &quot;Obamacare,&quot; now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Whatever tincture of liberalism he might once have exhibited has long since vanished. His conservatism is of a harshness way beyond the positions of the last Republican challenger to a Democratic president, Bob Dole, who was thrashed by Bill Clinton in 1996.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> d07a4f1f744d4a96cd090d13eff3e52a Trayvon Martin and the Doom of the Republican Party for 03/30/2012 Fri, 30 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Like most things that happen in America these days, the Trayvon Martin case is turning into yet another hearse trundling the Republican Party to its doom in November.</p> <p>Here's a brief outline of the facts. It's Feb. 26. Trayvon Martin is a 17-year-old black kid watching a big basketball game in the home of his father's fiancee in Sanford, a small-town outlier of Orlando, Fla. Sanford has a population of 55,000, about a third black. The fiancee lives in a mixed-race, gated community. At halftime Martin goes to the corner store and buys an iced tea and a bag of Skittles. </p> <p>It's raining, and Martin has his hood up over his head and is talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone. On his way back, he is spotted by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a cop wannabe, self-appointed neighborhood crime watcher. Apparently, he has pestered the police station for months with reports of &quot;suspicious 12-year-olds&quot; walking through the neighborhood. Zimmerman &mdash; white dad, Latina mother &mdash; is wearing a red jacket and blue jeans. In his pocket is a Kel-Tec 9 mm automatic pistol. <p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> e6c5803498e62cb0ef3bfe44c72c57d6 The Myth of the 'The Knowledge Economy' for 03/21/2012 Wed, 21 Mar 2012 21:00:00 -0700 <p>Only 25 percent of all Americans go to college, and only 16 percent of those actually try to learn anything. Welcome a nation of helots.</p> <p>&quot;In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a first-class education,&quot; President Obama famously declared in his 2010 State of the Union address, just as millions of high-schoolers across the nation were going through the annual ritual of picking their preferred colleges and preparing the grand tour of the prospects, with parents in tow, gazing ashen faced at the prospective fees.</p> <p>The image is of the toiling students springing from lecture room to well-paying jobs, demanding advanced skills in all the arts that can make America great again &mdash; outthinking and outknowing the Chinese, Japanese, Indians, South Koreans and Germans in the cutting-edge, cut-throat, high-tech economies of tomorrow.<p>Updated: Wed Mar 21, 2012</p> b48a36271436ffa1887c66fdae458f70 The Lost-Cause War in Afghanistan for 03/16/2012 Fri, 16 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Americans have been expressing bafflement that there has not been more outrage in Afghanistan about the lethal rampage of a U.S. Sergeant who killed 16 Afghans, including nine children, in the early hours of March 11. As with the burning of the Qurans last month, the Pentagon has been groveling in contrition. The acting commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, expressed &quot;deep regret and sorrow at this appalling incident. 'I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ... military activity.'&quot; </p> <p>Afghans could be forgiven for suffering &quot;massacre fatigue,&quot; precisely because &quot;authorized military activity&quot; by U.S. troops and Special Forces in Afghanistan has long since degenerated into a lethal culture of assassination, &quot;revenge&quot; sorties, desecration of bodies, and the harvesting of trophies such as severed fingers, ears and the like. In the recent past, Afghans have also been able to study photographs of laughing American soldiers pissing on the bodies of dead Afghans.</p> <p>Back in April of 2010, after furiously denying responsibility for the deaths of three Afghan women in a messed-up Special Forces night-time raid, the U.S. commander in Kabul admitted U.S. forces had indeed killed the women after first killing two civilians &mdash; a district prosecutor and local police chief. The self-styled American &quot;kill team&quot; shot two men to death as they emerged from their homes armed with Kalashnikov rifles, to investigate as the raid began.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 6c7b46c3ef8d20eeafc3557141360403 The Lost-Cause War in Afghanistan for 03/16/2012 Fri, 16 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0700 <p>In the wake of the lethal rampage by a U.S. sergeant who killed 16 Afghans in the early hours of March 11, the Taliban have put a halt to talks with the Americans and President Hamid Karzai, who has demanded that NATO troops pull out of the villages and return to their camps.</p> <p>As with the burning of the Qurans last month, the Pentagon has been groveling in contrition. The acting commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, expressed &quot;deep regret and sorrow at this appalling incident. 'I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ... military activity.'&quot; </p> <p>Afghans could be forgiven for suffering &quot;massacre fatigue,&quot; precisely because &quot;authorized military activity&quot; by U.S. troops and Special Forces in Afghanistan has long since degenerated into a lethal culture of assassination, &quot;revenge&quot; sorties, desecration of bodies, and the harvesting of trophies such as severed fingers, ears and the like. In the recent past, Afghans have also been able to study photographs of laughing American soldiers pissing on the bodies of dead Afghans.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p> 1df86ec6e00a90427f3d5912cf46d6ed Romney's Republican Death March for 03/09/2012 Fri, 09 Mar 2012 00:00:00 -0800 <p>In the end, Mormon money and organization has stopped crusading papism in its tracks. In the crucial state of Ohio, millionaire Mitt Romney beat Rick Santorum. In the nine other Super Tuesday races, Romney won in Massachusetts, Idaho, Alabama, Virginia and Vermont; Santorum in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota. Newt Gingrich swept his home state of Georgia.</p> <p>The primaries run until the end of June, concluding in Utah, which will crown Romney's run. Barring an act of God &mdash; Santorum's or Gingrich's God in this instance &mdash; Romney will be the Republican nominee, however many complicated calculations about delegate counts we have to put up with in the interim and the eagerness of the press to spin the race out profitably for weeks.</p> <p>Romney has slugged his way through but at serious cost. A recent poll run by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal discloses that 70 percent of all respondents used harsh language to describe the Republican presidential race.<p>Updated: Mon Nov 23, 2015</p>