Monthly Archives: March 2008

Heckuva job, Maliki

 The Bush Administration just handed the al-Maliki Government in Iraq the kiss of death.  Saying he is doing a “heckuva job” (actually said  “pretty good job”), Defense Secry Robert Gates just secured Maliki’s likely demise after his having been humiliated by Muktadr al-Sadr in Basra.  In congratulating Maliki, Gates also said,   

“I think we’ve all known at some point that the situation in Basra was going to have to be dealt with. It is the economic  lifeline of the country.  To have it under control of gangs and militias over the long term is not acceptable…  So I think all of us in the government were pleased to see Prime Minister Maliki take this on, take the initiative and go down there himself with Iraqi forces and try to resolve the issue.”

 This statement is Bush-speak for “heckuva job Brownie,” which translates to “wow, we/you really f*#ked up again.”  It also means, “you’re outta here” (Maliki is toast).  Ya see, al-Sadr neither surrendered nor gave up arms.  Quite the opposite.  He got Basra and boucoup bucks, and in turn Maliki got to say he won a “cease-fire.”

 After 5 years of war,  such claims as “the surge is working” and suggestions that Bush succeeded in having installed a legitimate government in Iraq all rise and fall with media and then public acceptance of the puppet Maliki regime and its simulated governance as real.

 This time, the mainstream media is complicit in constructing the canard that Maliki controls the Iraqi military, and that it, with his say, pushed back the al-Sadr militia.  Likely truth is, the US government is giving al Sadr and his supporters heaps of money to claim a “cease fire” (on record they are paying him for port access) and to sustain it, all the while al-Sadr dances to a wholly different beat.   That’s right, al Sadr along with clerics in Tehran, not Bush or Maliki, seem to be calling the shots these days.  Not quite what we are hearing, is it? and yet, Gates and the rest at Bushco are suggesting things are on track. 

This new dynamic became obvious during the violence of the past week.   Maliki– not al Sadr–waved the white flag in Basra.  Since al-Sadr (not al-quaeda) has very close ties with Iranian revolutionary guard, and since Iran– not Maliki/US– brokered/ forced this latest cease fire (to the extent one exists), one is left wondering about  Bush’s boneheaded legacy.

The neo-cons can’t even grasp the real-politik bromide that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Rather, as Bushco has it, the friend of my enemy is my friend.  huh?  The US and Iran are providing support for the same side–al Sadr militia in Iraq.  

In conclusion, McSame has no truck with the fact that al-Sadr and Iran– not the US and its puppet regime– are controlling events in Iraq.   al-Sadr’s demands for a cease fire, which Maliki apparently accepted, give him (al Sadr) control in Basra, which is the opposite of what Bushco/ Gates suggested this morning.

Again, quite a boneheaded legacy. (and this for one hundred years?)  

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Seeking a moral compass in the Clinton/ McCain Campaigns

Bill and Hillary have been on a jaunt about the similarities between Hillary and John McCain, and how given such similarities the fall campaign would be a civil affair. Hardly. The most striking similarity is the obsession each candidate has with making things up, about their positions, backgrounds and experiences. Neither candidate has a firm grasp on the truth, and in the fictional world of these candidates, anything goes.

 While McCain fabricates the absence of lobbyists his own campaign, and repeatedly misstates Iran’s relationship with Al-Quaeda, Hillary repeatedly fabricates the gunfire she dodged in Bosnia.  As Frank Rich suggests today, Hillary’s “Bosnia moment” pulls together in a single story, years of doubts that Americans– supporters and opponents– have had about the Clintons since ’92.  Bill and Hillary have done some good things, but they have never had much affinity for the truth.

The more salient concern here is that Both Clinton and McCain act as if they feel some higher power is involved with their quests to become president.  As divinely chosen aspirant, they no longer feel constrained by such trivialities as legal process or conscience.   Their campaigns are ends-oriented, as opposed to means- oriented, which suggests once again that almost anything goes. Misleading statements, lies, half truths, and so forth.  This is the similarity that Bill and Hillary have been alluding to.  

In the absence of either candidate having a firm hold on a well functioning moral campus, the fall campaign would prove fun for the media to cover but would further damage our increasingly fragile democracy, and it would hardly be civil. 

Prediction for Hillary’s Demise

My prediction for Clinton leaving the race is the following: 1) she wins Pennsylvania by less than 10 points; 2) she loses NC big and Indiana narrowly; 3) calls for her to drop out get louder; 4) Hillary goes on til Puerto Rico (June 1) but is taken less seriously and is increasingly ignored by the press. 5) she drops out the day after losing the Puerto Rico primary, on June 2.  Press is the oxygen she breathes to survive. Without it, good or bad, her candidacy dies.    Post comments AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.  

Casey Endorsement a Pa. Sleeper for Obama

Bob Casey’s endorsement on Barack Obama is likely to have a surprisingly positive effect on Obama’s candidacy come primary day in Pennsylvania, April 22.   During his 1+ year in the US Senate Bob Casey has put forward solid liberal voting credentials (100% ADA rating), while continuing to appeal to the state’s cultural conservatives.   Casey easily defeated Rick Santorum, the Senate’s third ranking Republican in a low key senate campaign that seemed hardly to break a sweat. With Casey’s low key approach to accompany his own in an advertising barrage about to his the PA media markets,  Obama is likely to cut (perhaps substantially) into Clinton’s 12 point lead for several reasons. First, the Rendell/Nutter effect, which has been substantial for Hillary, has already played itself out.  Its effects are evident in the polls which had Clinton in front by more than 15% and now holding somewhat steady at about 12%.   But, second, the voters are bored and desire to shake things up.  Casey’s endorsement comes at a time, according to Politico, when Pa. voters are feeling neglected.   The muck of the Clinton campaign is wearing thin. Translation: the voters are still looking. Clinton has not locked it up.   Third,  while Obama is sounding increasingly presidential since his “race speech” in Philly, and in subsequent speeches on iraq, foreign policy and the economy, Clinton sounds increasingly desparate.  The kitchen sink strategy didn’t knock out Obama; only made him stronger (vetted even).   And finally, the voters of Pa. are coming to realize that even with a Clinton victory in their state, she remains extremely unlikely to get the nomination.  For these reasons, Obama is likely to come well within 10 points come primary day.  Might even win it.  Regardless, he will then win in NC and Indiana on May 6, and then she’s out for sure, hopefully.

The Nixon in Dick Cheney

When Dick Cheney analogized the Iraq War the other day to Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, the Gordian knot unraveled around the perpetual War in Iraq.  Now Cheney was suggesting that Iraq, like the pardon, was politically unpopular, but the right thing to do. The merits of this argument notwithstanding, the statement revealed the origins of the current predicament in Iraq.

 More than anything else, the Iraq war is about power, or as Cheney once told Rolling Stone, it is about pushing that ball up the hill and not letting anyone else push it back down.  Cheney is a fan of unitary executive power because his office is in the executive branch (though when it serves his purposes, his lawyers argue the VP office is a legislative office). When he was Wyoming’s lone congressman, he authored a book about unmitigated legislative power.  As it happens, the most damning sort of power is minority tyranny, and so it is that Cheney’s consumption of personal political power is wreaking havoc on the constitution and this country’s democracy.   

 Back to the Ford analogy.  Cheney’s start came in the Nixon administration, and while there, Cheney became enraptured with the trappings of Dick’s imperial palace. Although Cheney’s personal lot rose dramatically under Ford, becoming chief of staff, he saw the trappings of power disappear.  By many accounts, the Ford Presidency was one of the weakest in history.    Dick experienced political impotence and didn’t like it. When his boss lost to Jimmy Carter, Dick vowed to mount his efforts against any force that would ever militate against the powers of the presidency.  Once again, Cheney’s stock rose after the demise of a powerful president.  

 Clinton, like Nixon, came a hair’s breath away from being removed from power by the senate.  Cheney would do everything in his personal power to make sure that Bush 43 was no Gerald Ford.  So, messy imagery aside, Dick, was Bush’s Viagra. He was there to keep the man and the office erect and potent for as long as possible. Along came 911, which for Cheney was the tragedy of a lifetime.  It would provide him cover for wish fulfillment and all virtually the executive branch resources at his disposal. In his coterie, Rumsfeld shared his Nixon/Bush experiences and his desire not to relive the humiliation of those years.

 With Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, and Cheney being given all the president’s powers by an incurious slacker of a president, the neo-con strategy became a reality faster than any of them had ever actually thought possible.  They simply never bothered to plan what would follow their assumption of power, and their commitment to turn much of it over to private business partners.  Once in Iraq, they had no plans other than turning back attempts by congress or the courts to limit their power, and then turn things over to Halliburton and Blackwater. They are still trying to figure it out, but at this point, their objectives have been achieved, and they no longer really care. 

How to Impeach the Media for the War in Iraq

This week’s Frontline about Bush’s five year war synthesized an amazing amount of information into the documentary’s simple theme: the President of the United States repeatedly betrayed his oath of office through lies, deception, trickery, and utter lack of curiosity.  

The only two presidents to have been impeached faced removal charges that were far less severe than the treasonous charges that could be filed and supported against Bush.  This was a coup by the neo-cons.  It could only occur with the active complicity of corporate media.  Plain and simple.  The corporate media, in this saga personified in Judith Miller, were fatally seduced by power, (even more on point, corporate interests aligned with neocon interests) and in the process failed to investigate the many false claims behind the war.    

The real danger is not only that Bush Co. got away with the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, 4,000 US soldiers and over 1,000 private mercenaries and quite possibly never will be held to account, but that the media is winking and nodding the country into repeated versions of this wicked tragedy.  The media’s active complicity in enhancing the McCain candidacy is dangerous, even though it is being portrayed by the likes of Chris Matthews and Tim Russert as some freakish fraternity prank. (“Hey, we’re your constituency. Do with us what you will.”)  McCain (Bush III) is serious about deceiving, lying and whatever else it might take to get the country to go along with his plans for a 100-year war.  The media seem as open to an open ended McCain war as they were ready for the writers’ strike.  Bring it on! Reality shows bring higher ratings with fewer production costs. A win-win.  The danger of course is that McCain is likely to get an even bigger pass from the media than Bush 43.  

A McCain administration won’t have to learn how to seduce the media. The media is already seduced.  Just look at how the media handled McCain’s  “100 years in Iraq” comment, and better yet, his latest “McCain moment.”      According to Chuck Todd, one of the few trusted MSN talking heads, McCain’s lie that Iran is “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back,” is being shrugged off by reporters as a “McCain moment,” (itself a disqualifier to be commander in chief, no?).  So what that McCain repeated it 4 or 5 times over several days.  More like turrets syndrome than a senior moment.  

According to Todd,“[T]his was not a one-time slip and so, you know, this just shows you how much bank — how much of the foreign policy experience stuff he’s got in the bank, because had [Sen. Hillary] Clinton or [Sen. Barack] Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over, and would have absolutely hurt them politically.”     How to explain it?      

The better question is what to do about it.       Suggestions:  Democratize and impeach the Media!  1) Turn to the net roots; 2) apply pressure on the FCC to remove licenses from local affiliates whose news programs deliberately replace the news with imperial propaganda.  3) Boycott network and cable programming that advance such propaganda; 4) get your legislators to oppose further concentration of media ownership.     In the absence of an independent media, democracies fail.  Our democracy is on the brink.   In this election year, the media should be scrutinized far more closely than it scrutinized the War and is currently scrutinizing John McCain.  For instance.  Wanna get involved NOW?   See below from bravenewfilms.org 

This Thursday (March 27th) at noon, we’ll be joining MoveOn.org to hand deliver 200,000 petition signatures to ABC studios in Washington D.C. It’s high time they focus on substantive issues in this election, and put a stop to FOX’s smears seeping into the mainstream press. Can you help us?

    WHAT: Petition Delivery to ABC Studios

    WHERE: ABC News studios, 1717 DeSales Street, NW (the small street between Connecticut Avenue and 17th Street-just north of L Street, 1 block north of the Farragut North metro)

    WHEN: 12:00 p.m.

    RSVP: Click here: http://political.moveon.org/event/stopfox/46083 

Though we plan to deliver the petition to NBC, CBS, and CNN, our ABC delivery is the main event in Washington, D.C. With your help, we can get the networks to listen! Please join us.

 

Conservative themes in Obama’s Race Speech

In a recent HuffPo, Rogers Smith, who was interviewed, suggested that as important as Barack Obama’s speech last week might have been, it probably would not help him among conservative voters.

I disagree, and direct your attention to yesterday’s small scale rebellion at FOX Noise where one morning anchor walked off set and conservative commentator Chris Wallace impugned his colleagues for engaging in “Obama bashing.”

Something is afoot with a potential Obama nomination that is both unsettling and fascination to watch unfold.

On a previous post, I remarked that “The Speech” is one of the most optimistic and realistic speeches on race that Americans have heard in a very long time. I’d like to add that the speech was neither a liberal nor a conservative speech. It had elements to appeal to partisans of diverse political persuasions. Of particular interest here are the ideas that appeal to conservatives, who like Chris Wallace, are taking notice.

Consider for a moment a couple things that Obama chose not to dwell on. He spoke little about class and poverty, which as somebody vying for an Edwards endorsement, some must have found disappointing. Further, Obama emphasized the notion of individual responsibility in the African American community, which is an issue that Bill Cosby recently took under tow, much to the chagrin of more progressive voices like Michael Eric Dyson, whose book, Is Bill Cosby Right? was pretty much a broadside attack on Cosby’s remedies of meritocracy and personal responsibility. Then consider Obama’s white and sometimes bigoted grandmother whose comments remind many of some of our own white relatives. And finally are thee themes raised by Reverand Wright, which, according to Frank Schaeffer, when spoken by his rightist white preacher dad (Francis Schaffer), received high praise among white Christian conservatives.

So, plenty for the right to chew on, Rogers Smith’s commentary to the contrary.

It seems Obama landed on some inherently conservative ideas that may broaden Obama’s appeal among Pennsylvania’s rural white voters and those other Reagan Dems who don’t like McCain and just might have been among the 1million+ clicks of “The Speech” on YouTube since Tuesday.