Saturday, February 19, 2005

A Tale of Two City-States

Another Country Heard From

Iraq's oil workers banded together after the fall of Baghdad and formed a union. Less than impressed with our attempts to re-make their government, they now invite us to take our leave:
"When the occupation troops stood back and allowed Basra's hospitals, universities and public services to be burned and looted, while they defended only the oil ministry and oilfields, we knew we were dealing with a brutal force prepared to impose its will without regard for human suffering. From the beginning, we were left in no doubt that the US and its allies had come to take control of our oil resources...
The occupation has deliberately fomented a sectarian division of Sunni and Shia. We never knew this sort of division before. Our families intermarried, we lived and worked together...
Bush and Blair should remember that those who voted in last month's elections in Iraq are as hostile to the occupation as those who boycotted them. Those who claim to represent the Iraqi working class while calling for the occupation to stay a bit longer, due to "fears of civil war", are in fact speaking only for themselves and the minority of Iraqis whose interests are dependent on the occupation.
We as a union call for the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces and their military bases. We don't want a timetable - this is a stalling tactic. We will solve our own problems. We are Iraqis, we know our country and we can take care of ourselves. We have the means, the skills and resources to rebuild and create our own democratic society."
Read the whole thing for a perspective that has been utterly absent from the news stories we're fed,including how KBR tried to force out Iraqi workers to make way for foreigners, and how Bremer tried to enforce a rule paying them $35 a day while paying foreign mercenaries up to $1000 per day.
And then read Riverbend's latest, to get it from a woman's-eye view, also usually missing from the MSM.
Good times, eh?

This Land Isn't Your Land

This land belongs to the millionaires. At least according to Brooksie, who today turns his keen hindsight on the scandals of Medicare and the proposed changes to Social Security. Dave's feeling a tad shrill about the Republican government's lack of fiscal restraint, having been taken aback by the revelations of the large amounts of money tha will need to be thrown at these programs in order to facilitate their transformation into Bush's Ownership Society poster children---amounts heretofore undreamt of by good little Heritage Foundation shills but pretty well guessed at by those of us who've been conscious for the last couple years. And what does he think will save the American people? Well, a strong leader of firm moral fiber and the ability to mobilize their outrage. And where might we look for such a one? Not from the common clay, that's for sure:
"There's going to be another Ross Perot, and this time he's going to be younger. There's going to be a millionaire rising out of the country somewhere and he (or she) is going to lead a movement of people who are worried about federal deficits, who are offended by the horrendous burden seniors are placing on the young and who are disgusted by a legislative process that sometimes suggests that the government has lost all capacity for self-control."
He never explains---but why should he start now?---why he thinks this paragon is going to come from the caviar class (or for that matter, why he has to be "younger"). My guess is that for David, as for most other Americans these days, the rich have become the ruling aristocracy, and there's no reason to expect that anyone with less modest means could get the public's ear, much less get elected. We don't even question this assumption anymore. Oh, sure, there's the mandatory railing against candidates who have too much money, but that's just a complaint that they're giving the appearance of being too snooty (too French, too educated, too whatever the adjective-of -the-month is). We even cling to our illusions that the millionaires we do elect are just plain folks, risen up out of the laboring masses with dirt under their fingernails and the fumes of the mill on their breath. The self-made myth. Our schizophrenia about this couldn't be more clearly evoked than in Brooks' op-ed, whose subtext is, "Don't look for someone to save you amongst yourselves. You can't do it, you don't have the money or the smarts. Just wait there like good little workers until your next messiah comes down from Mount National Bank." Unlike the Iraqi oil workers in the story above, ordinary Americans couldn't possibly be expected to take on the problems of their own nation without a trust fund and a dynasty or two in their pedigrees.

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