Ted Rall does great political cartoons. He also often writes essays. Some of his essays are very powerful and I would argue his latest for CounterPunch can be included as among his finest:
Concern that Afghanistan will return to the barbarism of the late 1990s and that Afghan women will suffer dramatic setbacks is misleading because, in the rural majority of the country, the politics and culture of the late 1990s never disappeared. Women never stopped wearing the burqa and continue to be stoned to death, most recently last year in Ghor Province. Young boys are routinely raped, a practice to which American troops were ordered to turn a blind eye. Were the Taliban to return to national power, life in most of Afghanistan wouldn’t change.
Nor would the more liberal cities be greatly affected. Afghanistan’s economy generates nearly $20 billion in annual GDP. An incoming national government run by the profit-oriented neo-Taliban would be hesitant to interfere with the engine of that economic activity, the big cities and the “ring road” highway network that connects them. We would probably see a crude version of the “one country two systems” form of governance that China uses in Hong Kong: girls schools and tolerance for personal freedoms in central Kabul, sharia law and grinding poverty out in the sticks.
As demonstrated by their engagement in the Doha peace process overseen by the Trump Administration, the neo-Taliban want trade and formal diplomatic ties with other countries, something the Taliban could not obtain from 1996 to 2001, when they were totally isolated from the rest of the world. The need to maintain international connections would be a moderating influence, making worst-case scenarios like harboring extremist groups, ethnic cleansing and disintegration unlikely.
None of this is to say that Afghanistan will become a Central and South Asian paradise if and when the neo-Taliban come to power in Kabul. The corrupt and dogmatic neo-Taliban will likely function as an authoritarian narcostate with trappings of rough religiosity, like a hardscrabble Saudi Arabia that exports heroin. Afghanistan will present new challenges. But it will be mostly up to the people of Afghanistan—traumatized, energetic and influenced by 20 years of Western values—to address them.
Make a point to check it out.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Friday, April 23, 2021. The media and how it sells hate and people who defocus.
First, is Rachel Maddow the new Bill O'Reilly?
A question well worth pondering.
There are many things not worth pondering.
There are three topics that keep coming in supposedly related to Iraq. We haven't covered them!!!! We have failed!!!!
Is that what I'm supposed to say?
We've never covered everything. There's never been that kind of time, to begin with.
There's also a thing known as common sense and I'd argue it's more important than book smarts or pretty much anything -- common sense.
Right now, as in the clip above, people want to take on fake news. As Winona Ryder says to Ethan Hawke in REALITY BITES, where were you?
For the last years, where were you? Long before Rachel Maddow had celebrity and late night, broadcast network TV appearances, the left had a lot of trouble -- a lot of trouble with liars.
There was Amy Goodman repeatedly. She pretends she's appalled by what happened to African-American youths and talks to mothers of the children involved but . . . she doesn't listen. Not to the mothers. She had a lie she wants to pimp so even though a mother of one of the children states to her, on camera, and even though Amy broadcasts that interview, Amy continues with her damn lie basically saying, "I know you live here, I know your child is one of the African-American children being targeted, but I am a White woman from NYC and so I know damn well better than you." Heaven save us from the saviors.
There were other lies she pimped. A number of lefty media, for example, ran with the death of a Muslim woman in California. They hate Iraq in that town, they hate Iraqis. We saw a little bitch boy from Pacifica play that lie out with Amy on the air.
No, they don't hate Iraqis there. We'd mentioned the story once in passing -- noting that things were as clear cut some were trying to say and that the most obvious killer of the woman wasn't some American youths but her own husband. We threw out that flare. But for two weeks Amy Goodman hit on that bulls**t topic over and over.
You know when she was no longer interested in the dead woman? The day the police arrested the husband.
She never touched on it again. She'd done multiple episodes on the (non)topic and had even included in that bad syndicated column that I believe all outlets have now dropped. But she was no longer interested when the husband was arrested.
When she couldn't falsely cry hate crime, when it was 'just' another woman killed by her husband, it wasn't a story to cover for Amy or the bitchboi from PACIFICA whom I never trusted and I know no one at KPFA ever trusdetect ted KPFA listeners knew he was full of s**t in 2006 when he showed up on Kris Welch's program to try to sell the Iraq War and insist it was going well -- this as the American people were turning on it.
Common sense will help you many times from making a fool of yourself. Amy Goodman and Rachel Maddow have no common sense.
I do have some. And I will use it to determine what we use our time on here.
I don't know if you drive-bys read your e-mails, the ones you write this site, or not. But I'm real good at contextual context, among other things, and I'm real good about seeing intent in writing (it's why I can't take John Grisham's novels, for example).
Of the twenty-five e-mails that came in Thursday and Friday about an Iraqi child, I don't detect any real interest in the child. I don't detect any sympathy for him.
The story some drive-bys keep e-mailing about broke over two weeks ago in the Israeli media.
I didn't think it was a story then and I don't now.
A child was born with mutation, birth defect, challenge, whatever you want to call it.
Do we link it to the toxic environment and chemicals?
That would make it of interest here. But no outlet did. They offered a perv interest in a story about a newborn having three penises.
I saw drooling in the e-mails, I didn't see compassion.
I'm not interested in perving on a child or turning them into a freak show. This was a bottom feeder, exploitive story and we didn't cover it.
The second big topic?
I don't know, reading those e-mails, I honestly have to wonder: What did domestic discipline ever do to you?
Did you not get off? You couldn't jerk it to completion? Or maybe you had your own domestic discipline circle and this sub was more popular than you so now you want to get back at him?
Since Glenn Greenwald's first column about Russia-gate this year (he's covered the topic for many years), e-mails have come in regarding a male sub who is in a domestic relationship with a female dom. He runs a site (does she?) and I know this because his 'fans' keep e-mailing this site about it. He promoted Russia-gate. And then they show me how.
I'm so sick of it. I'm so sick of the petty.
He runs a domestic discipline site -- that's where one partner (or one in a two person relationship) has the ability/task to discipline.
That is his topic. That is what the people who comment are supposed to write about. From time to time, apparently, they veered off into politics. Imagine that, someone veering off topic in an online discussion -- shocking! (That was sarcasm.)
I've read a lot of these e-mails. I even visited the site to make sure that Russia-gate was not a major topic there. It wasn't. It was a passing topic.
It never seemed like a story of interest to me to begin with -- even before I visited to make sure this wasn't a major purveyor of lies to the American people. The only thing I found was that one of the women e-mailing this site's public e-mail account was a woman who repeatedly lashed out on this topic when she brought it up. At one point, she was even told to drop it. She didn't.
Aren't subs supposed to follow orders? Maybe she was looking to be disciplined for being rowdy and disruptive? If so, she's really stupid because why would you go to a site run by a male sub and populated with male and female subs expecting to get discipline?
And it's stupid to get upset with someone who is not presenting as a political expert (I'm referring to the male sub whose site it was) and who is siting 'news' coverage when he responds to bratty female sub who keeps bringing up the topic.
A lot of people were lied to and tricked by 'reports' from the news media about Russia-gate. The news media is responsible for that. And if someone wants to write something about how pervasive the lies from the news media were -- they even spread into a domestic discipline site -- that would be of interest and value. But just thinking that we need to shame the sub -- for his opinions or for his lifestyle -- is nonsense.
I'm not going to shame anyone for a consensual relationship between adults. If you're capable of being honest, we're all just struggling to get through the day. If someone or something makes your day a little better and it's consensual, more please and power to you.
I've noted one of the people who kept pushing this as an important issue to be covered -- noted it in the paragraph above -- and at least she just thinks the guy who runs the site is an idiot. There's a man who keeps e-mailing about it (Martha says she's read 16 e-mails from him about this) and wants to share how "disgusting" and "perverted" the man is.
Then why are you going to his site? Does it turn you on, mister?
There are many things I'm not interested in and I don't visit sites about the topic. There are also many things I am interested in but don't have time to visit sites about those topics. I was hoping, for example, since Vice President Kamala Harris has been raising the topic of water wars to finally be able to write about that here. Since this site started, I wanted to write about that topic. I remember when Danny Schechter was promoting his Iraq film, we spent three hours discussing water rights issues. The rights issue, as a legal issue, has long interested me and yet there's never been time to write about it here.
Oh, look, a digression!!! See, it does happen all the time -- certainly does here.
Back to the offended man, if you think the website and the guy's lifestyle are disgusting and offensive, don't go the website. I don't get that. I don't waste my time on things that I don't like. I have some food allergies, for example, and I don't look up recipes that involve those ingredients. Why would I? So why are you visiting a site that you claim to be opposed to?
Either because you're not really opposed to it or you don't have a life.
You'd do better to figure out why you keep visiting that site then to repeatedly tell me to call the sub running that website out.
When I visited, I did not like the site. I was streaming through threads, scanning them quickly, to make sure this wasn't a site where they repeatedly pimped Russia-gate. One of the male subs was discussing a woman repeatedly, his former dom. That's why I didn't like the site. It was obvious, from his first comment, that the woman would be passing.
I did not react to his comments with, "Oh, what a disgusting relationship!" I reacted with watering eyes and a lump in my throat because it was obvious that if I had to keep going through these discussions at that website I was going to read that the woman had passed. And she did. And it was very sad to me because she was clearly the love of his life.
I don't know why you would want to lash out at someone like that guy who had lost someone he loved deeply. I don't know why, if you found the life captured at that site so offensive, that you would repeatedly visit the website.
I don't like the Iraq War. I know why I cover it: I live in the United States and my government lied to start a war, the press lied to get it started (they wanted media consolidation -- that's a topic few are ever willing to address when noting that the press sold the Iraq War, it is an illegal war that has destroyed the country of Iraq and turned it into a land of orphans and widows.
Equally true, many in the US look the other way. Especially people who grand standed on it once when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House. I never used the Iraq War to promote myself or to make money. But a lot of people did -- a lot of people on the left.
Where are they? Where are they now?
At some point, I'll be among them. I don't see doing this site much longer. I am tired and I am tired of being online. I will gladly cop to the fact that I used being very sick this week to avoid getting online and that when I was online I was more likely to be reading e-mails than posting content here. But for as long as I've been able to, I have tried to call attention to the ongoing war and to do so in some way that was different.
We covered Russia-gate from the beginning here and called it out from the beginning.
A lot of people trace it to the 2016 election. No, it predates that. It really went public, in Barack's second term, when Ed Snowden was unable to leave Russia and trapped at that airport.
The better term for Russia-gate was always Russia-hate.
Our government and our media stirred up hate in many people -- that's what they're so very good at.
The Iraqi government is considering other options for displaced families
who cannot return to their home areas because of security problems, as
Baghdad continues its push to shut down camps.
The migration ministry has suggested to some families they consider moving to other areas of the country if they can’t go home, the Minister of Migration and Displacement, Evan Faeq Jabro, said in an interview with state TV on Thursday.
Al-Jada in Nineveh province is one of just two camps still open in Iraq, outside of the Kurdistan Region. Security concerns are preventing families living in al-Jada from going home, Jabro said. The camp mainly houses families with suspected links to the Islamic State group (ISIS).
Displaced people from Jurf al-Sakhar in Babil province are also unable to return home. The town was evacuated during the war against ISIS and security forces and Shiite militias are preventing their return, citing dangers from mines planted by ISIS. Sunni lawmakers have accused the militias of trying to change the demography of the area.
The minister did not give details of what other areas these families could go to.
The Iraqi government also wants Iraqis sheltering in the Kurdistan Region to return home. There are about 39,000 Iraqi families living in Kurdistan Region camps, according to Jabro.
Since October of last year, we have covered how the Iraqi government plans to 'end' the displacement crisis by . . . shutting down the camps. That's not curing anything and it doesn't help anyone.
Common sense can go a long way. Common sense would tell you that shutting down camps while people are in need is not an answer. Common sense would tell you a lot.
Exactly zero percent of the world’s worst criminals are in prison. Imperialists. War profiteers. Ecocide profiteers. The very worst of thieves are financial elites. The system isn’t designed to protect us from society’s worst, it’s designed to protect society’s worst from us.
I don’t write much about the specific individuals who drive the oligarchic empire because individuals are not the problem, the system is. Right-wing conspiracy analysts prefer to focus on specific corrupt elites because they like to think if you just got rid of them, capitalism would work fine. And it just wouldn’t. If you rounded up and executed all the sociopathic ruling elites today but left our current systems intact they’d just be replaced tomorrow. A competition-based model where war, corruption, oppression and exploitation remain profitable guarantees this.
A lot of right-wing conspiracy analysis today ultimately boils down to “These bastards are ruining the capitalism!” But capitalism is already ruined, and ruinous. As long as it’s profitable to destroy each other and our ecosystem, the ruin will continue. That’s the real problem. Making it about individuals feeds into the false impression that the individuals are the problem, and absolves us of our collective responsibility to move out of our competition-based model to one in which we collaborate with each other and our ecosystem to create a healthy world.
As long as we have systems in which it’s advantageous to be sociopathic enough to do whatever it takes to get ahead, we will find ourselves ruled by sociopaths. The names and faces on those sociopaths are ultimately irrelevant. They’re a symptom of the underlying disease.
It’s the mass media’s job to normalize war and abnormalize peace. It’s our job to do the exact opposite.