Tag Archive for 'bush-administration'



Is Iraq’s New Boss the Same as the Old Boss?

Published February 27th, 2011 by tcarpenter

When the Bush administration decided to invade and occupy Iraq, a key stated goal was to bring democracy to that country.   But aside from periodic elections with competing parties, the new Iraq is beginning to resemble the old Iraq.  In particular, the government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is treating journalists and other critics with intolerance and outright brutality reminiscent of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Disturbing evidence of such repression has been building for at least the past two years, but the developments this week are truly shocking.  As with many other countries in the Middle East, demonstrations have broken out in Iraq demanding, among other things, an end to the Maliki government’s rampant corruption.  Those demonstrations culminated on Friday with a “Day of Rage.”  Although the demonstrations even on that day were mostly peaceful, security forces killed at least 29 participants.

They also rounded up dozens of journalists, writers, photographers, and intellectuals who had been involved in organizing the rallies.  Late in the afternoon, the Aldiyar Television station, which had telecast footage of the demonstrations, reported that security forces arrested seven employees, including a director and an anchorman, and closed the studio.

One of the many other journalists arrested that day in Baghdad was Hadi al-Mahhi, who told Washington Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen what happened after soldiers arrested him and several colleagues while they were sitting at an outdoor cafe.  The soldiers loaded al-Mahdi and the others into Humvees and drove them to a side street, where they beat them severely.  Then, they took them to a former defense ministry building that now houses a unit of the army’s increasingly feared intelligence unit.  Mahdi was taken to a room alone, where he was beaten again with clubs, boots and fists.  Not satisfied with such garden-variety brutality, they took his shoes off, wet his feet, and administered electric shocks.

This is the new Iraqi democracy for which the United States spent $800 billion and sacrificed nearly 4,500 American lives.  An Iraq in which regime opponents are arrested and tortured, in which more than a third of the terrorized Christian community has fled, and in which more and more women are being forced back under the veil by religious zealots.  One hopes that the Obama administration learns from the folly of its predecessor and resists the siren calls that we’re now hearing to intervene in Libya and other countries to bring the blessings of democracy to those populations.

Bipartisan Economic Mess

Published August 7th, 2010 by tcarpenter

The campaigns are well underway for the midterm congressional elections, and the vast quantities of hot air being vented could explain the extraordinarily high temperatures most the country has been experiencing this summer.  One of the most irritating features of this campaign season is the apparent GOP assumption that Americans have been afflicted by collective amnesia.  Republican officials and propagandists repeatedly savage the Obama administration for the ongoing Great Recession.

Some of their criticisms are valid.  The 2009 prediction by the head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors that the unemployment rate would be kept below 8 percent was spectacularly off the mark.  The $700 billion “stimulus package” was a combination of the usual pork-barrel spending and utterly goofy spending schemes.  And the apparent intentions of the administration and the Democrats in Congress to let most of the Bush tax cuts (one of the few good things that dreadful administration did) expire could well  make an already very bad recession even worse.

But Republican partisans apparently want everyone to forget about when this recession began and who was running economic policy when it did.  Obama’s policies have been unwise, at best, but he did inherit a colossal economic mess when he took office.  Republicans act as though the recession began on January 20, 2009.  But the plunge was underway well before then.  The residential housing market started to collapse in 2006 and 2007, and the economy officially went into recession in December 2007.  The financial system began to melt down in mid-2008, intensifying the downturn. 

All of this happened with a Republican White House and GOP appointees in charge of the Federal Reserve, the Department of the Treasury, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  One would like to see at least a little acknowledgment of responsibility for the debacle instead of the current cynical, partisan effort to put all the blame on the Democrats and the Obama administration.

The Great Recession is a bipartisan economic tragedy.  Republicans were primarily responsible for its onset, and the Democrats have managed to make a bad situation even worse.