AlterNet Readers' 10 Best Comments of the Week!

The message boards were humming with conversation about articles on MoveOn's ad, "General Betray Us?," Chris Hedges' takedown of Bill Clinton's new book Giving, outrage over the Jena Six case, Jewish dissent regarding the state of Israel, and other hot-button issues. Without further ado, here are your comments of the week:

Thoughtcriminal tut-tutted the mainstream media for failing to critique the real reasons for the occupation of Iraq in response to "MoveOn Ad Exposes the True Betrayers."

Why won't the Democratic leadership mention the oil factor?

Behind the endless talk about "benchmarks" and "success" and "our interests in the region" are the two central factors: control of Middle East oil and the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq as the method of control.

Really, that's the geopolitical-economic plan. As oil grows more scarce and dear, the political-economic leadership of the United States -- the ones who buy elections and own the corporate press, as well as all the oil corporations -- have decided they can no longer rely on puppet dictators of questionable loyalty to control the oil reserves and the region, and that's why the permanent military bases are being built in the region.

Neither the oil nor the base construction are topics that any politician, Democratic or Republican, will touch. They're not even in the frame -- they are not acceptable topics for domestic political consumption.

Read Hersh at the New Yorker:
"Where Is the Iraq War Headed Next? 2005."

One Pentagon adviser told me, "There are always contingency plans, but why withdraw and take a chance? I don't think the president will go for it" until the insurgency is broken. "He's not going to back off. This is bigger than domestic politics."

Odd, isn't it, that U.S. foreign policy is deemed to be "bigger than domestic politics" by the military-industrial complex?

What happened to the notion of government of the people, by the people and for the people? Just a quaint, old-fashioned notion? Now it's all for big finance, big pharma, and big oil … Corporato Uber Alles …

Even the oil issue is too touchy. The New York Times is trying to spin the story into "What Greenspan really meant to say is that Saddam was a serious threat to the region and had to be removed!"

Mr. Greenspan also spelled out his own views about the war in Iraq: he supported the invasion, he says, not because Saddam Hussein might have had weapons of mass destruction, but because Saddam had shown a clear desire to capture the Middle East's oil fields.

"I supported taking out Saddam, because he was moving inexorably toward taking the world's oil resources," he said. "Iraq was a far greater threat than Iran to the world scene.

Yeah -- he was about to invade Saudia Arabia and Iran and Kuwait! We stopped him just in time! His armies were massing on the border! With nukes and stuff! Really!

I will never, ever take that rotten rag seriously again. What a farce! What a total betrayal of journalistic integrity! What a collection of propaganda monkeys!

The lies surrounding Iraq also extend to military recruiting. Poster soulerbeljc added some personal experience to the piece "Top Military Recruitment Lies"

Patriot Act Section 9528 …
I'm surprised the article didn't mention this, though the book probably does. This is a little known clause in the (un)Patriot Act that ties federal funding for schools to giving student personal info to military recruiters. I have been a HS teacher for nine years, and each year this has been in effect, I tell my students about it first day of school, because school districts DO NOT adequately inform students and parents of the law -- and that students have a right to OPT OUT. Of course they can't opt out if they don't know the law …

Anyway, school districts I have been in do not allow "counterrecruitment" tabling even though there is a 1986 California ruling that says military recruitment on HS campus is political speech (pro-war is a political position). So recruiters can come and set up their tables and give out their little trinkets, but nobody can set up a table saying, "Here's why you might want to think twice about signing that." […]

On top of the school BS, recruiters also wander concert venues looking for their disenfranchised targets. I was at the Family Values tour a few weeks ago, and the Marines and Army both had booths and bands of roving uniformed recruiters wandering around. Unbelievable. Leave these kids alone; they're at the concert to have a good time, not to sign their life away.

Recruiters sell death, plain and simple.

But the U.S. government has obviously seen its recruitment efforts fail and has turned to hiring private mercenaries who are accountable to nobody to fill out the ranks in Iraq. In response to "Checkbook Imperialism: The Blackwater Fiasco," fallawayjumper explains:

Far from "securing democracy," private security firms funded by the Pentagon, State Dept., et al., are in fact a THREAT to democracy for they operate outside the law. They are exempt from Iraqi prosecution, the ICC, do not have to adhere to the Military Code of Justice, run their own armies, air forces, prisons and pretty do much do whatever they please. Often that is shooting up the place and whomever unlucky enough to be in their vicinity.

And since they operate "outside the system," they can be used as a sort of Emperor's Guard via the elasticity of their no-bid contracts. Blackwater in particular was "guarding" NOLA after Katrina, if you can believe that.

And the economic model is in keeping with the Bush/Cheney/GOP tradition of turning public treasure into private profit for their friends and benefactors.

And of course the enormous number of contractors and their "contracts" represent an obstacle to a swift withdrawal, allowing Iraq to achieve sovereignty and solve its own problems. For the occupation is indeed the very fuel that keeps the "insurgency" alive. Proverbial gas on the fire.

Chris Hedges went for Bill Clinton's jugular in "The Hypocrisy of Bill Clinton's New Book Giving." Reader peacelf joined him by critiquing Clinton's trademark "triangulation":

Which came first, the corp egg or Dem Chicken? Chris Hedges captures the essence of Bill Clinton's legacy, but I would add that Clinton is a product of neoliberalism, that is, he and Hillary have embraced Libertarian Milton Friedman "voodoo" economics of trickle-down, lazy unfair capitalism. Deregulation and dismantling the "welfare state" was/is the mantra of neoliberals and neocons alike. That's why Hillary dropped the hot potato universal healthcare early in Bill's first term …

Case in point: "Let the market decide!" Well, what has 11 years of free, open trade taught us? The flow of capital goes disproportionately to the rich corporations. The rich corporations need energy (oil) to fuel their insatiable thirst for profits, so the neocon president starts an illegal war in an oil-rich country to temporarily ensure the oil faucet is wide open. Meanwhile, that same president opens the doors for wars in two other oil-rich countries (Iran and Venezuela): just good planning for the future. China is an industrial powerhouse with its cheap and plentiful labor and lax environmental standards.

Meanwhile, workers wages and rights around the world erode to 19th-century standards and practices, making sweat shop labor the norm. An environmental crisis looms on the horizon, and the newest crop of Repubs and Dems offer no real solution (with one or two unelectable? exceptions). This is the new era of world trade!

Let's call it what it is: World trade means empire building, and any candidate who supports free trade agreements and refuses to create a single-payer universal healthcare program is part of the problem, not the solution.

We progressives can fight to change it now, or wait out the slower but inevitable destruction of American society that is sure to follow by voting for the likes of Hillary, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Dodd and any Republican, including Ron Paul. Kucinich, though, is the only candidate who has the platform and the voting record for standing for the people. We can get off our computers and go door to door for Kucinich or we can sit at our desks and bitch about it to each other.

And since we're talking about free market and oil, Ignatz deFyre asks what the good of Canada's oil reserves are for Canadian citizens, in response to "How Canada Went from 21st to 2nd in World's Oil Reserves."

Where's the benefit for Canada? I don't see the development of the tar sands to be doing much for the good of the average Canadian; as usual the benefits accrue to the large oil companies. The lofty position of the world's second-largest reserve posessor does not even confer on Canadians the benefit of lower domestic fuel prices. On the contrary, the loveliness of NAFTA ensures continued indenture to corporate interests by not allowing the sale of fuel domestically for less than it it is sold for in the United States. Market price, IOW; market price being whatever the sign on the corner gas says at any given time. Imagine, if you were a farmer, being forced to buy your own corn for your own table at the supermarket price. One can argue that tax revenues from fuel sales are used to pay for social services, but this Canadian has not seen our taxes decline or services increase in living memory, on account of increased oil tax revenues.

Here at home, there was widespread outrage surrounding the Jena Six case. Shalimarali wrote that we shouldn't be surprised by racism in the U.S. in response to "Jena Six Case Shows Black Teens Get Short End of Stick":

The root problem of racism is that slavery has been swept under a rug. Slavery needs to be addressed and settled, so this country can move on to healing. Imagine a situation where an abusive husband beats, hangs and rapes his wife for decades. Did he ever apologize? Does she forgive him? Does she ever complain about the abuse? Did the abusive relationship ever reach CLOSURE??? This same analogy can be used with the relationship between blacks and whites in this country. For hundreds of years white people have been like an abusive, murderous husband to black people, thus making black people their BITCH. Did black people complain about the abuse? YES! Did white people apologize for the abuse? NO! Did the strained relationship between black and white people post-slavery, post-lynching, post-Jim Crow ever heal and reach closure? NO!!!!!

The lack of an apology and closure for slavery is the reason why there has not been any healing from slavery. And thus racism continues on and on, because slavery has been ignored and swept under a rug, thus racism continues to flourish.

So, duh -- another racist event in this country. I'm not surprised, in fact I expected it and more of the same and more until slavery has been properly forgiven and given closure.

Speaking to another manifestation of racism, poster sofla100 applauded the article "Bush's Looming Immigration Crackdown a Painful Exercise in Futility" and expounded on how immigrants are scapegoated for the U.S. government's economic failures:

In response to some of the above comments, if wages are too low in America, why are illegal immigrants being blamed? Official unemployment figures are low, only at 5.5 percent or so, yet minimum wage does not go up (or just barely). It's called Republican, right-wing idiot-ology and "free trade." Why blame illegal immigrants? In most cases, "illegal immigrants" have taken the jobs Americans don't want anyway. There is also no evidence that they commit very many crimes in America, certainly no more and probably far less than the average "American." It seems we in America, however, are increasingly in need of a scapegoat, Joshua. Our right-wing president committed America to a foolish endeavor in Iraq, and he also has no domestic successes. What an opportunity this will present for some new photo-ops and "Mission Accomplished" banners. Also, furthermore, if trade is going to be "free," isn't it a contradiction not to allow labor to be "free." Lastly, we should improve conditions in Mexico. Virtually nobody is running across the open Canadian border into the USA or "illegally" immigrating from Western Europe. Why? The living standards and society are better off there than in the USA. It's only from the very poor countries like Mexico that "illegal immigration" is a problem.

Jodie Foster plays a violent woman in her new film, and unity1 described how Hollywood has refashioned women into gun-toting, violent heroines, in response to "Brave One Puts Wrong Weapon in Women's Hands":

The new equality -- making women as violent as the men is a way to legitimize violence -- rather that try and control it and change it, and Hollywood is part of the problem. After years of giving women stereotypical gender roles prescribed by old values, they have seen the error of their ways and in the only way they can equalize the huge gender imbalance they help create, they have made women equal killers as men ... and of course, it's so normalized that no one really gets it. In the real world, however, crime stats are showing an increase in violent crimes by females. And, of course, more silly women are joining the military to learn how to kill like the boys -- now that's equality isn't it? After all, girls can do anything.

In response to "For American Jews, Dissent Against Israel Has Become Mainstream," reader jim_altman describes his own love for Israel while also being critical of what he saw:

Seeing is believing. I love Israel. I love the story of Israel. It would be the realization of a dream to live in a kibbutz for six months or a year, but only once the present insanity is ended. Like the author relates above, on my first trip to Israel I saw the Palestinian refugee camps and immediately related images from apartheid South Africa. I saw teenaged Israeli boys and girls walking about in public places with loaded automatic weapons and realized how so many minor conflicts can escalate so quickly into major violence. The humiliation of border crossing into and out from Jordan was worse than the entry into Communist East Berlin, and I was with a religious tour group composed primarily of white-haired ladies and gentlemen. How much worse is the experience for the "obviously" Palestinian? And, this was before the two Bush crusades. On a second journey, I saw the contentious fruit groves of the Jordan Valley and realized some of the ulterior motives of West Bank settlements. I've spoken with expatriated Palestinians in Amman and beleaguered shop owners in East Jerusalem. Much opinion is expressed by people with no real experience of the reality on the ground in Israel. More frustrating are the blinders some seem to wear who live there or know the place well. Like the audiences that frustrated the prophets, many just cannot see how unjust their actions are. Everyone else may be an "evil-doer, " but them. Ezekiel warned, "When all is desolate, then you will know." I pray that reality can be avoided.

On a lighter note, in response to the story "Why Did Fox Censor Sally Field's Emmy Speech?", Poster opeluboy took a moment to thank Fox:

Thank you, Fox. And I really mean it. Without your clumsy attempt to censor free speech, Field's comments would have passed most of us by.

Keep up the good work!

Thanks for tuning in, and we'll see you next week!

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