Monday, February 19, 2007

"One-third of Iraqis live in poverty" (Christian Berthelsen)

Though living standards started to decline under the decades-long leadership of Saddam Hussein, and continued through two wars and crippling sanctions that followed, the report takes aim at economic policies put in place after the 2003 invasion.
The policies, which reflect American free-market priorities, dismantled state-run enterprises that employed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and ended subsidies.
The policies presented Iraqis with wrenching change, leading to high unemployment and frustration, the report said.
The study found Iraq's damaged infrastructure to be the largest factor in creating poor living conditions.
It said 85% of households lacked a stable source of electricity, with weekly and even daily outages. Nearly 70% of households struggled with getting rid of garbage, and more than 40% had inadequate sanitation facilities.
Deprivation levels also were seen as a factor in malnourishment.
Residents in the country's mostly Shiite Muslim south were found to suffer the most, whereas people in Baghdad and northern Iraq had the highest living standards.

The above is from Christian Berthelsen's "One-third of Iraqis live in poverty: A U.N. report cites the nation's damaged infrastructure and U.S. free-market policies" (Los Angeles Times). Economic policies? Naomi Klein outlined that in "Baghdad Year Zero" (Harper's magazine) in 2004. A country's was used as a lab by a number of American idiots who wanted to 'shock the system' and prove that their disaster capitalism could work -- it couldn't and it didn't. And that's as much a story of what bred the resistance as any thing else in Iraq but you won't hear too much about that.

If you're the New York Times, for example, you act like you didn't poll on the escalation and pray that no one notices you haven't front paged one of your own polls in months -- IN MONTHS! The paper that can't shut up about their polling, treating them always as breaking news, continues to pretend it hasn't polled since before the 2006 election.

Or maybe you take James Glanz and let him come off like a yokel on the front page, making like Jed Clampett "up from the ground came a bubbling crude, oil that is . . ." You front page that bit of nonsense and bury Marc Santora's story on the 60 plus Iraqis killed in Baghdad on Sunday, bury it inside the paper. That's one way you can continue to sell the illegal war.

The BBC on the UN study:

Other indicators show a sharper fall, with half the population having unsatisfactory water supplies and more than 40% deprived of good sanitation.
They say economic shock treatment in recent years has been naive and immature.

The economic shock treatment which was also intended to throw Iraqis off balance, to create a tiny pool of resources which various groups will then fight over, breeding inner hostilities while the American officials have their tag sale with very little opposition. (The oil union has been one of the few true oppositions to the neocon nightmare.) Throw the population off balance, force them to compete with one another for the very basics and Paul Bremer can't pass whatever (illegal) Bremer laws he wants. Or, as is the case now, Condi can fly in to scold and press for the privatization of the oil industry -- something that the people of Iraq do not want. But who cares about them? Not the New York Times.

It's always been about business and there's a reason Thomas Friedman can be as looney as he wants to be on the op-ed pages of the Times, they support the same economic measures as the US administration. That's why they conducted the war on Social Security before Bully Boy was even governor of Texas. The Times has always supported privatization and that's why they went along with the illegal war, why they sold it in the first place, and why they continue to sell it. A Judith Miller or a Michael Gordon isn't called out because they argue for the ultimate aim (in what's supposed to pass for 'reporting'). Miller's kicked to the curb not because they're offended by her 'reporting' but because they have no more use for her now that the majority of the public doesn't believe a word she says. Michael Gordon, if the heat stays on him, will find out that he, too, may be expendable.

Of course, he's a male and they tend to get a different sort of treatment. Contrast the treatment of Elisabeth Bumiller with the "news analysis" and other laughable pieces -- penned by men -- of late. Knee pads? Oh the critics love to go to town . . . on women. You can see it in the weekly bashing of Katie Couric whose program doesn't have anywhere near the problems that Charlie Gibson's does. But Gibson's a man (and a company man who learned long ago to cut off an interview when people/bosses might get uncomfortable) so people obsesses over whether Couric smiled too much, her on air greeting, et al, and completely ignore the very real damage Gibson does evening after evening.

The Times has learned the big lesson. It's not the lesson critics might have wanted them to learn, but it's an important one nonetheless. Having seen Bumiller, Miller and Kornblut raked over the coals, you'll note, they rarely allow women to do anything at the paper except what's supposed to pass for 'straight "reporting".' That's why the "news analysis" and other opinion pieces -- in the news section -- are penned by men. There's a special vennum that's aimed at women.

It's why Michael Gordon (and a whole host of other men) got off scott free for their own attempts to sell the illegal war. It's why Gordo's confused and grumbling now about where this negative criticism is coming from (from your own 'reporting').

If Bumiller did something laughable, call her out on it. But she wasn't the only one. We may have dubbed her "squad leader" but, here, we always noted the men who were serving on the Elite Fluff Patrol under her. And it still amazes me that before the recent interest in Gordo, he was able to put T&A on the front page of the Times and that didn't result in massive condemnation. What does that say? That some of your 'critics' got a cheap, dirty thrill at the photo that basically shot up the legs of those women (who were headless! faceless! on the front page as the photo showed men ogling them), that they loved the smarmy copy Gordo churned out on that idiotic group of women who went to Iraq to be cock teases? (And let's note, not even the supposed 'brave' critics, who call out the yearly 'women don't want jobs' nonsense the anti-feminist New York Times regularly peddles, offered one word on that T&A story. Maybe some of the otherwise 'brave' 'gals' suffered from do-me feminism at that moment which is why they all chose to stay silent? Or maybe they're just as useless as most people are starting to think they are -- but, point, it's not just men who look the other way. You'll note those 'iconclasts' also managed to avoid writing about the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer.)

Gordo's gotten away with a great deal because he's a man, the same way Charlie Gibson does while we're supposed to be shocked! shocked! that Katie Couric might wear different types of outfits on the CBS Evening News (and shame on any critic who doesn't grasp that results from CBS trying to test market while the critics rush to slam Couric). Couric's wardrobe is more important than the nonsense and selling of the war that Gibson does every evening? It tells you the priorities of some.

From Santora's "2 Car Bombs Explode In Busy Baghdad Market, Killing at Least 60 People" (buried on page A6 so that Jed Clampett can offer you the feel good story of "There's oil in 'dem 'der hills!"):

Two days after Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki called the opening steps of a security crackdown here a "dazzling success," two car bombs tore through a crowded market and killed at least 60 people on Sunday.
The attack occurred only minutes after American soldiers passed through the area on patrol, underscoring the difficult nature of trying to quell violence on Baghdad's streets, where car bombs have been an almost daily occurrence and suicide attacks directed at civilians are so common that many of the markets have been closed to vehicle traffic in recent days.
The blasts occurred in the mostl Shiite neighborhood of New Baghdad, devastating an open-air market, setting dozens of cars ablaze and causing the partial collapse of a two-story building that housed several electronic stores.

Today, the US military announced: "A Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Feb. 17 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Feb. 18 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." And they announced: "Insurgent forces executed a coordinated attack on a coalition force combat outpost north of the Iraqi capital, killing two Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers and wounding 17 others Feb. 19. Insurgents initiated the attack on the outpost with a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonation."

From the Associated Press:

Insurgents launched a brazen coordinated attack on a U.S. combat post Monday, sending in a suicide bomber and clashing with American troops. Two U.S. soldiers were killed and 17 wounded, the military said.
The assault began with a suicide bomber exploding a vehicle outside the base north of Baghdad, said the military statement. It gave no further details beyond the number of dead and wounded.
Residents said U.S. forces fought with militants after the suicide bomber tried to break through barriers around the base near Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad. For hours, helicopters were seen landing at the base and leaving.
The attack came on a day when a string of car bombings and other attacks claimed nearly 30 civilian lives in Baghdad and elsewhere.

Beefed up, juiced up, the never-ending 'crackdown' (which will have lasted a year come June) continues to be a failure. Only the idiots of the left who've never written about Iraq but want to come along and scold with "Be Honest" are surprised. The idiots need to "Be Honest." The left has been honest about Iraq, they've discussed it and addressed it while the idiots were making top ten lists or doing "columns" that were nothing but book reviews. Those on the left who've been serious, don't need to "Be Honest" but the idiots do. Having spent the better half of 2006 avoiding any Iraq topic or Iraq related topic, they'd do well to "Be Honest" their own damn selves. First step would be acknowledging that they betrayed their power and platform by refusing to address the rape and murder of Abeer, war resisters or any of the other big stories of 2006. But no doubt, they're too busy attempting to figure out which neocon to offer a ho-ho 'funny' book review of next. Consider them the Chuckles the Clowns of the left -- and, note, only they find themselves amusing.

The e-mail address for this site is