Friday, September 12, 2008
I want to start by giving everyone who came out and protested today a shout out. People had to go up against a lot and this needs to be appreciated. There was the "freedom cages" with barbed wire that the police built for the protesters, the storm troopers in the streets, there was all the media hype about protesters being dangerous. And then there is all the Obama hype (the Obama "hope") that is being built up and that people are being sucked into. To go out in the face of that and to stand true to principle, against the war, against theocracy, against everything this Bush program has brought, and everything that Obama is not challenging, is very courageous and very heroic and very precious.
At the same time, our numbers were smaller than they need to be, than they should have been and than many of us were hoping they’d be. I want to talk bluntly and honestly about this and what we should make of this. I write for Revolution newspaper and this is something I've been writing about. I did an article recently, "The Dangerous Logic of Blocking Protests in the Name of Getting Obama Elected." This has been going on. People maybe have heard some of the groups talk about having an "inside/outside strategy." As World Can't Wait was working to help build these protests we talked to a lot of people who said, "Oh yeah, we're glad you’re organizing street protests against a new war on Iran, against the war in Iraq. We'll be there too—and we'll be doing our inside strategy." That is, trying to influence the Democratic Party from within the convention and by appealing to delegates.
But in reality what's been happening is that a lot of these so-called "anti-war" groups and "anti-war" leaders have been demobilizing protest. They have been working on their "inside strategy" but they have done nothing to mobilize protests out in the streets to oppose this direction that can be seen by the world.
I know Recreate '68 had to go up against this. I'm going to be really blunt because it matters. United for Peace and Justice, Leslie Cagan, she said maybe we should call off the protest today and advocated instead that we should mingle with the delegates. I'm all for going and talking to delegates…in order to get them to join us in the streets, okay? But Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, where were they today?
That's a text version of a speech Sunsara Taylor delivered in Denver. It is a very important speech. It tells a lot of hard truths. On the section above, weren't we suppose to avoid that happening again?
What she's describing is exactly what happened in 2004 as the 'anti-war' movement shut their mouths for 'the good of John Kerry.' The 'leaders' swore never again. The 'leaders' are revealed as liars.
Sunsara is not a liar. She's a Communist and, unlike the 20th century stragglers in the Barack campaign, she's not hiding in a political closet.
Sunsara Taylor's speech is amazing but equally amazing is that she refuses to fall back on the knee-jerk 'mainstream' response of so many of her elders and treat Communism like a dirty word or something to be ashamed of.
She's talking about movements and I agree with her comments there but I know a number of us are damn sick of the closeted Communists running to prop up Barack and pose as Democrats. If those people truly believed in the Communism they claim to, how do they think they're doing it any good by hiding who they are?
That was a question that came into Third during the Democratic Party primaries. The writer was a young Communist and he couldn't believe that anyone would be one but hide it.
Good for him. The fact that he is shocked by it shows how far along the Communist Party is coming.
The Closet Cases like to pretend like McCarthyism still exists when the reality is they've chosen to enforce McCarthyism internally by silencing who they are.
I firmly believe in a dynamic discussion in America and that includes people from the left, right and center. But what I do not believe in is people lying to the public.
Don't pretend to be a Democrat if you'd not.
The 21st Century is just starting and no one knows where it will go; however, people like Sunsara who are not afraid to state who they are loudly and clearly will do more to advance political thought and discussion in this country than a hundred Barack Obamas. One Sunsara is worth more than 100 Baracks.
One Sunsara is worth 1,000 Leslie Cagans. I cannot believe Cagan has behaved the way she has. I'm going beyond what Sunsara is writing about in my previous remark. I think when people refuse political closets, they are able to have a more honest discussion which allows them to plant more seeds.
For the youngsters, McCarthyism was a witch hunt in the middle half of the last century. People were outed as Communists or tarred and feathered as such (when they weren't) and their entire life systems crumbled and many lost work.
Some went to prison.
Before Vietnam ended the Congressional committee on McCarthyism was finally disbanded (and it wasn't really important to the 60s at all). But a number of 'high profile' people have used that as their excuse to stay in the political closet.
I'll go to Sesame Street because I assume we all know that there's nothing Communist about that program. But pretend there was, pretend Big Bird was a 'flaming red.' Pretend that and that Big Bird hid that from the public. Imagaine all he could have accomplished for his party by being open about it. All that went out the window because Big Bird was more interested in pretending he was a Democrat.
When we began talking about the closet case politically, the reaction was swift from Team Obama with charges of McCarthyism. That is so false because McCarthyism was done by the government.
However, there is one thing that the lead up to McCarthyism and this era share: Closet Cases passing themselves off as Democrats. That's why the committee was staffed with Dems and Republicans. Had people not been in the closet and posing, there would have been no need for the committee. But the Republicans saw everyone who was even center as a Communist and Dems were getting pretty tired of closet cases glomming on and attempting to take over the Democratic Party.
The resentments created by the Closet Cases is not usually mentioned in the historical write ups but it was very real resentment on the part of Democrats.
It was cute to watch Bill Ayers' brother write at Aging Socialite's Cat Litter Box that there was a new "McCarthyism" afoot. No, there wasn't. There was a desire that people choosing to make political endorsements get honest about who they were. That's not a desire that's false or uncommon. Those choosing to endorse Barack should state which party they belonged to.
At this late date, the Closet Cases had nothing to fear except for one thing: Not being able to pass.
It was the passing that ticked off many in the earlier era.
That was why people like then House Speaker Bankhead were so angry with the Communists as the era of McCarthyism started.
The ones passing that made Democrats in Congress angry were the ones trying to influence outcomes within the Democratic Party.
There wouldn't have been the "Red Scare" otherwise even with the US turning on the USSR as WWII drew to a close.
So along comes today's Closet Cases pissing off Democratic insiders and they're harming the Communist movement. There's no shame in being a Communist. There's nothing wrong with it or illegal. But you can't argue the Party's points and also hide in a closet.
People like Sunsara are taking the country in a direction that will produce many positive effects. If more would be honest, you'd have a thriving left that went far beyond Democrats.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, September 12, 2008. Chaos and violence continues, the theft of Iraqi oil is still pursued, tensions remain between the puppet government and the "Awakening" Council, Charlie Gibson makes a huge error in his interview with Sarah Palin, and more.
Starting with Iraqi oil. Edward S. Herman (ZNet) noted at the start of this month, "On the oil front, in late June the newspapers featured the announcement of the Iraqi oil minister Mohamad Sharastani that contracts had been drawn up between the Maliki government and five major Western oil companies to develop some of the largest fields in Iraq. No competitive bidding was allowed and the terms announced were very poor by existing international contract standards. The contracts were written with the help of 'a group of U.S. advisers led by a small State Department team.' This was all in conformity with the Declaration of Principles of November 26, 2007, whereby the 'sovereign country' of Iraq would use 'especially American investments' in its attempt to recover from the effects of the American aggression." Thursday Andrew E. Kramer and Campbell Robertson (New York Times) reported on a Tuesday press conference, held by Hussain al-Shahristani (Iraq's Minister of Oil) at OPEC's meet-up, where it was announced that the contracts with western corporations (including Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP) were being cancelled which the coporations "confirmed on Wednesday." Ernesto London (Washington Post) reports on the cancellations today and notes that the companies "are expected to submit bids in coming weeks for deals" and explains it was not just public outrage that killed the contracts, "The oil companies were not surprised by the Iraqi decision, given the political sensitivities raised by the issue, according to an executive at one of the five companies. Speaking on the condition that he not be identified further, the executive said the deals had become less attractive because Iraqi officials had shortened the proposed length of the contracts from two years to one in response to criticism." The cancelled contracts aren't the only bad news for those hoping to play Let's Steal Iraqi Oil! Not all that long ago, with much happy gasbagging in the press, Iraq announced Iraq's Energy Expo and Conference to be held October 17th through 19th. Ben Lando (UPI) reports that, woops, no one bothered to think about construction -- the convention center's not done yet -- so the Expo's dates have been moved to December 3rd through 5th. The puppet government can't get it together to hold provincial elections and they can't even pull off a conference they got a ton of positive press for when they announced it. And Andy Rowell (Oil Change International) offers, "Oh it's so good to be back. After a 35 year absence Shell has become the first western oil company to land a major deal with the government in Baghdad since the invasion of the country five years ago. They will be smiling in the Hague and London. Shell has been awarded a $4bn contract in the south of the country to supply gas for Iraqi domestic use but also for export. Shell's project is intended to make use of the gas flared off by the oil industry in the south of Iraq. In that region alone, an estimated 700m cubic feet of gas is burned off every day -- enough to meet the demand for power generation in the entire country."
Yesterday's snapshot noted the Thursday meet up between the puppet government in Baghdad and the "Awakening" Council members. Saif Rasheed and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) report on it today noting,the supposed impending melding of "Awakening" Council members and the Iraqi 'government': "Leaders of the so-called Sons of Iraq disputed Iraqi plans to absorb only 20% of the fighters into the Iraqi military and police, and they expressed doubts that their members would be protected when the U.S. military turned over responsibility for the units to Iraqi officials. . . . The plan worries many Sons of Iraq leaders, who say Maliki's government already has begun a campaign of arrest and intimidation against them. U.S. officials, who embraced the program last year as a way to turn around the Sunni insurgency, now say the Iraqi government has the right to arrest fighters it suspects of crimes."
Today's bombings include an attack in Salaheddin Province. AFP puts the death toll at 31 plus the "suicide bomber" whom they note "detnoate his explosives-filled truck near the police station of the central Iraqi Shiite town of Dujail". AP says the count rose to 32 dead (forty-three wounded) citing police and hospital sources. Reuters adds, "They said casualties were a mix of civilians shopping at a nearby market as well as police." While Al Bawaba notes, "Police said the bombing occurred just before dusk, when many people were on the streets before the breaking of the fast during the month of Ramadan." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) provides the historical background, "The mainly Shiite city is best known as the site of a campaign of vengeance by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein following an assassination attempt against him there in the 1980s. After the attempt on his life, the Sunni leader ordered the roundup of young Shiite boys and men and destruction of homes in the town. Hussein and six others were convicted in 2006 in the killings of 148 Dujayl residents, and Hussein was hanged for the crimes later that year." Al Jazeera goes with more recent history, "The last major suicide attack occurred on August 26, when a bomber thwarted a security checkpoint in Jalawla, a police recruiting centre, and blew himself up, killing at least 25 people."
In other reported violence today . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombng that left five people wounded, a Baghdad grenade attack that injured thirteen people, a Nineveh bomber who killed themselves outside a Shi'ite mosque and claimed 3 more lives with fifteen more people injured and a Salahuddin Province car bombing which claimed 27 lives with forty more wounded.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul home invasion that resulted in the deaths of "parents and their son".
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.
Turning to the US presidential race and starting with indepdent presidential candidate Ralph Nader who appeared on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer (CNN) Wednesday (click here for transcript). Blitzer asked Ralph his goal in the election?
RALPH NADER, INDEPENDENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well if we're in the presidential debates, it might be a Jesse Ventura, three-way race. But-- yet today, we put together -- BLITZER: Three presidential debates, but the Presidential Debate Commission has set a bar that's pretty hard for you to overcome. NADER: Yes, since it's controlled by the two parties, as you know. Today I think is an historic day because we, Ron Paul and the candidate for the Green Party, the candidate for the Constitutional Party, and me, and Bob Barr, agreed on four major areas: foreign policy -- get the soldiers back, end the war in Iraq, stop being imperialistic, privacy, deal with the repeal of the Patriot Act; the revision of FISA -- Military Commissions Act and you know, get rid of torture; and a third is the national debt. Deficits are now used for reckless government adventurism. The -- BLITZER: The national debt has nearly doubled over the last -- NADER: Yes, and the Iraq war is financed from deficit spending. BLITZER: And the fourth issue? NADER: And the fourth issue is the Federal Reserve is now a government within a government. It is totally out of control. Congress doesn't control it. It's funded by the banks. And we either have constitutional government or we don't because of this. Well -- here's the question: Is there anything left for the American people to decide about their country?
Is there anything left to decide? Earlier this week, Steve Horn (The Badger Herald) hit on similar points:
We've been conditioned by the mass media to believe there are only two political parties worthy of our attention. Because only the Republican Party and the Democratic Party receive significant coverage, especially during election cycles, it's easy to forget that other parties do indeed exist.Case in point: While Democratic presidential-nominee Barack Obama filled the Kohl Center to an over-capacity crowd of over 17,000 during his trip to Madison in February prior to the Wisconsin presidential primaries, Independent candidate Ralph Nader, running for president for the fifth time, struggled to fill the small Orpheum Theatre this past Friday on State Street, which has a capacity that is only 10 percent of the Kohl Center at 1,700. Most students here probably didn't even know Nader would be speaking at the Orpheum, and those who did know scoffed at the idea of him running for president again. The situation is shameful -- because over the past eight years, the two mainstream parties have failed us and no one really seems to care, nor do they really want to do anything about it. With wars on two fronts both deemed failures by the general public and key congressional leaders involvement in Jack Abramoff's money laundering scandal, the odds were rightfully stacked against the Republicans for the 2006 midterm elections. And indeed, they resulted in sweeping changes in the United States' political landscape from the local level all the way on up. Democrats gained 31 seats in the House of Representatives and five seats in the Senate, drastically altering the landscape of Congress. Democrats won these seats under the premise that Washington -- under the leadership of the Republican Party -- was broken, and a change in leadership was necessary to fix it. Two years later, looking at the voting records of the spineless Democrats, they have, by-and-large, failed us.
On the campaign trail, Ralph will be heading to New Orleans September 17th where he will speak at Tulane University where he will hold a press conference at the Freeman Auditorium starting at 2:30 p.m. and a rally starting at 3:00 p.m.
Turning to Sarah Palin who is John McCain's running mate on the GOP ticket. This is a quote from her when she was speaking to her church:
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan.
That's what Palin said in her church. Here for text (Glen Beck, CNN), here for audio (KPFK's Uprising -- and Sonoli Kolhatkar notes that the clips are cutting off short during the segment). Note it because Charlie Gibson distorted her words.
ABC News has the first interview with Governor Palin. Charlie Gibson conducted the interview. One segment aired 'dealing' with Iraq. Russell Goldman (ABC News) summarizes it as follows:
Palin defended a previous statement in which she reportedly characterized the war in Iraq as a "task from God."
Gibson quoted her as saying: "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God."
But Palin said she was referencing a famous quote by Abraham Lincoln.
"I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words. But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side."
Actually, Goldman, Gibson got what she said wrong. Click here for World News Tonight's official transcript, click here for the video.
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.
But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side.
That's what that comment was all about, Charlie. And I do believe, though, that this war against extreme Islamic terrorists is the right thing. It's an unfortunate thing, because war is hell and I hate war, and, Charlie, today is the day that I send my first born, my son, my teenage son overseas with his Stryker brigade, 4,000 other wonderful American men and women, to fight for our country, for democracy, for our freedoms.
Charlie, those are freedoms that too many of us just take for granted. I hate war and I want to see war ended. We end war when we see victory, and we do see victory in sight in Iraq.
GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln's words, but you went on and said, "There is a plan and it is God's plan."
PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That, in my world view, is a grand -- the grand plan.
Charlie quoted Palin stating, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." That wasn't a sentence, that was part of a sentence with additions to it by Charlie Gibson. Again, what Palin actually said:
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan.
When Palain said, "I don't know if that was my exact quote," Gibson insisted, "Exact words." No, they were not. Gibson was also wrong when he stated, ". . . you went on and said, 'There is a plan and it is God's plan'." She did not say that, she asked her church to pray that there was.
Even Sarah Posner told Sonali, "I mean, in a way, she was right with respect to the words that Gibson was quoting." And note that MSM Gibson got it wrong and did not play clips of Palin's remarks while left-wing Sonali was more than happy to play the clips and allow a discussing (with Posner) and for listeners to make their own judgments. If Gibson had access to a recording of Palin's remarks, then he lied. If Gibson was using a secondary source, he practiced bad journalism. Sonali showed more fairness than he did (not at all surprising considering Sonali's track record, but it needs to be noted).
Staying with the topic of religion, US House Rep and Idiot Steve Cohen was back in the news this week. Jake Tapper (ABC News, link has video) points out, "Last seen in election 2008 comparing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., to the villain played by Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" -- having survived an anti-Semitic primary challenge -- Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., feels liberated to come on the House floor and say that 'Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate a governor'." No, JPT, that's not what Cohen said. The video shows Cohen stating, "Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus, who our minister prayed about, Pontius Pilate was a governor." So Cohen -- that would be Jewish Cohen for those not paying attention -- was 'endorsing' Barack on the House floor by comparing him to Jesus? Or as the Jews might say, "You know, him." Jewish people do not believe in or pray to Jesus (unless they are "Jews For Jesus"). Exactly what belief does Cohen have left and, if there is one, has put a price tag on it already? And for the record, Christian theologians will dispute Cohen's crackpot claim re: Jesus and historians will say, "Not so fast" on the Pilate claim. Meanwhile Laura Strickler (CBS News) provides a fact check on several rumors about Palin currently making the rounds while Women's Media Center highlights Republicans for Choice's Ann E. W. Stone weighing in on the meaning of Sarah Palin's being the GOP's choice for v.p.:
Also, we are incensed by the petty and misogyny of the small-minded statement the Obama campaign released totally dissing her background! Couple that with Obama telling the Hillary folks to "get over it" and I would think disenchanted Hillary supporters should flock to the GOP.
We need to reach out to Palin and try to find common ground--social issues are not her front and center agenda. No nonsense, no BS--Palin is a doer, not a talker, and not afraid to take the boys on.
Did we mention she is a feminist for life? Again, her position on abortion means we will never endorse her, but even her selection advances all women.
The Democrats stood by while the media and others, including extreme elements in our own party, trashed Hillary Clinton and did not speak up to defend her. Many were baseless attacks and jabs having to do more with her hairstyle or clothing than with her policies. That stops now.
As Sarah Palin said when she thanked pro-choice Democrat icons Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton during her first speech upon being selected, they led the way but women are not finished yet and we will crash through the glass ceiling.
Tell it to the The Daily Toilet Scrubber -- and their squeaked voice tiny-tot 'leader' -- which continues their smears on Palin. The latest recalls what Bully Boy did to McCain in 2000 -- spreading lies about John and Cindy McCain's daughter Bridget. The trash being spread shouldn't be surprising, Toilet Scrubber is not left. Joseph (Cannonfire) explores that latest nonsense and notes, "This is the first election that finds me observing Democrats 'from the outside.' My god. My good god. Have we always been this foolish, this clueless, this self-defeating? Have lefties always gone so far out of their way to alienate huge voting blocs?"
"I try to take the reigns and lead me somewhere better, I try to keep on moving on," sings I Am Three ("I Try") which sums up World Can't Wait's Sunsara Taylor who hides in no political closet and refuses to silence herself in the latest in the never ending Quiet Game To Elect Democrats. Taylor spoke in Denver during the DNC convention (no, she didn't speak to the convention) and Revolution has an edited transcript: "I know Recreate '68 had to go up against this. I'm going to be really blunt because it matters. United for Peace and Justice, Leslie Cagan, she said maybe we should call off the protest today and advocated instead that we should mingle with the delegates. I'm all for going and talking to delegates...in order to get them to join us in the streets, okay? But Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, where were they today? . . . I'm not going to prettify this. We are in the belly of an empire. It is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have legalized torture and both parties, the whole system, is involved in that. History is going to judge us by how we act. If your allegiance to the Democratic Party is bigger than your allegiance to the people of the world then you have foreclosed your right to call yourself an 'anti-war leader'." Use the link to read all of Taylor's strong speech.
Turning to public televsion, NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on most PBS stations (and it will stream online) with topics that include: "Are tactical mistakes by Obama going to cost him the election? Maybe, says psychologist and Democratic political consultant Drew Westen. The author of "The Political Brain," talks to NOW's David Brancaccio about how appealing to voters' emotions reaps bigger electoral rewards than hammering home policy proposals. Westen is a Professor of Psychology at Emory University and the founder of Westen Strategies, LLC, a political and corporate consulting firm." PBS' Washington Week (begins airing tonight, check local listings) features Gwyn being joined by ABC News's Martha Raddatz, Time's Karen Tumulty, the New York Times' Jackie Calmes and Slate's John Dickerson. And Krystalline Kraus has an article on an important topic.
the new york timesandrew e. kramer
the washington posternesto londono
i am three
mcclatchy newspapersthe los angeles times
tina susmansaif rasheed
kpfkuprising radiosonali kolhatkar
womens media center
now on pbspbswashington week
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
When Members of Congress or the Administration or the corporate CEOs or the empirically starved right-wing ideologues start whining about regulation the right-wing echo chamber goes wild. When the absence of adequate regulation lets an industry wreak havoc, Congress and the Administration meekly admit a bit of regulation might have averted disaster. The corporate CEOs, expelled with their lucrative golden parachutes, have “no comment.”
The taxpayers, who are too often the guarantors of last resort and who are stuck with the tab, are asking each other why their public watchdogs were asleep at the switch. The Washington merry-go-round is something to behold.
As the recent headlines note, the Federal Government has taken over the giant companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is using the legal process of a “conservatorship” to “stabilize” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Talk about regulation!
On Sunday, September 7, 2008, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said, “Since this difficult period for the GSEs began, I have clearly stated three critical objectives: providing stability to financial markets, supporting the availability of mortgage finance, and protecting taxpayers - both by minimizing the near term costs to the taxpayer and by setting policymakers on a course to resolve the systemic risk created by the inherent conflict in the GSE structure.”
Nice words – but they will provide little comfort to the many common shareholders who have seen the value of their Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock collapse to pennies per share. And more than a few taxpayers are wondering what the Fannie/Freddie debacle will end up costing them.
We and others have been telling members of Congress, government regulators and members of the media about the structural and operational problems of Fannie and Freddie for years. I have written many columns about the lack of proper regulation of Fannie and Freddie. I testified before Congress about the need to focus Fannie and Freddie and my long-time associates Jonathan Brown and Jake Lewis have spent countless hours advocating that federal regulators push Fannie and Freddie to meet housing goals that would benefit under-served populations.
In 1991, lawyer Tom Stanton, a former colleague, warned about the risks and non-regulation of Fannie and Freddie in his prophetic book—A State of Risk (Harper Business).
In May of 1998, we even held a conference dedicated to Fannie and Freddie. In my welcoming statement to the conference participants, I noted that we would be discussing the adequacy of capital required of Fannie and Freddie and the efficacy of regulation of the two GSEs. I noted that both corporations had been enjoying good times. And, I cautioned that one of the unintended consequences of fat profits over a long period is the tendency of governments and private corporations to start believing in fantasies about living happily ever after in the glory of ever-rising profits.
My statement asserted that, “Taxpayers have learned that contingent liabilities such as those inherent in the GSE structure do, at times, become quite costly. It wasn't long ago--in the high interest rate period in the late 1970s and early 1980s – that Fannie Mae was having serious financial troubles. And the Farm Credit System, another GSE, required a bail out of approximately $5 billion in the 1980s when the agricultural industry had a severe downturn.”
In July of this year I lamented the fact that Fannie and Freddie have been deeply unregulated for decades which allowed their capital ratios to be lower—far lower—than they should have been, adding:
Over at the multi-trillion dollar companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the shareholders have lost about 75 percent of their stock value in one year. Farcically regulated by the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, Fannie and Freddie were run into the ground by taking on very shaky mortgages under the command of CEOs and their top executives who paid themselves enormous sums.
These two institutions were set up many years ago to provide liquidity in the housing and loan markets and thereby expand home ownership especially among lower income families. Instead, they turned themselves into casinos, taking advantage of an implied U.S. government guarantee.
The Fannie and Freddie bosses created another guarantee. They hired top appointees from both Republican and Democratic Administrations (such as Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick) and lathered them with tens of millions of dollars in executive compensation. In this way, they kept federal supervision at a minimum and held off efforts in Congress to toughen regulation.
So here we are. On Monday September 8, 2008, the value of common Fannie and Freddie stock dropped to under one dollar – just one day after Secretary of the Treasury announced the government takeover. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said, “[F]or years we have encouraged Congress to put in place a strong, independent regulator to oversee the institutions. We believe the actions will help to improve conditions in the housing market.”
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn has questions for the Administration, so there is more to be revealed. And, reporters are spilling buckets of ink talking about the takeover of Fannie and Freddie and the lack of proper oversight by regulators and Congress which brought us to this day of appreciation for regulation. Too bad it is all a little late for the small shareholders, and pensioners and taxpayers who pay the bill for speculators and executives, many of whom seem to escape with lots of money.
So that's Ralph explaining the issues that matters. You'll notice he doesn't have to go around offering excuses for vile sexism and then attempting to play like it was no big deal while whining he wished he could talk about issues. Ralph just talks about issues. It's not that difficult. If you really want to talk issues, you just do it. The way Ralph does.
Does no one remember this excuse from Barack before? Whenever he's questioned, he starts saying it's keeping him from talking about the issues.
But he never talks about issues. He attacks his opponents. He talks a hell of a lot about himself. But he never talks issues.
He's a feather-weight. No substance. A lot of inspirational/motivational words thrown together. But America's not electing a life coach.
He really thinks he can get away with anything. When that doesn't happen, he gets pouty and petulant and starts whining he wanted to talk issues.
He's a small boy caught doing wrong and refusing to own his blame.
Ralph Nader's an adult. He can sit at the grown up's table without a booster chair.
Barack has a trashy Cult.
AP reports that Carol Fowler ("South Carolina's Democratic Party chairwoman) decided to weigh in on the merits of Sarah Palin's vice-presidential run and declared that her "top qualification seems to be not having had an abortion." That is so disgusting and so outrageous.
Fowler's trying to weasel out of it with a weak-ass apology. She needs to make a lengthy public apology to the parents of special-needs children. I am really getting disgusted with the way The Cult of Barack is using a child to try to score cheap points.
The remarks are insulting to Palin for several reasons but the thing that really disgusts me is that woman (Carol Fowler) thought she could get away with jabs at special-needs children. Apparently, she made her comments while en route to do South Park voice overs. I have had it with the crap pushed off on special-needs children for some time now and, one thing to notice, Barack issued no apology.
They demanded apologies for everything from Hillary.
But Barack's Trashy Cult can say anything. They know they can and that they can get away with it because he never gets held accountable and he never does the mature thing and calls the garbage out.
Watch Amy Goodman ignore that news in tomorrow's headlines. She did that during the primaries as well. Anything she should try to pump up hatred for Hillary on made the headlines and the segments repeatedly. But she always looked the other way on Barack and still does. What a laugh, 'the people's media.'
It's just propaganda meant to fool you.
You can do a show from the left and still have standards and practice fairness. But that's only if you're a journalist. If you're Amy Goodman you just lie constantly.
NY's governor -- who was not elected to that office -- is trying to scream "racism" at a non-racist statement and Amy had a full segment on that. But she always ignores Barack's bad news. Even the New York Times at its worst has more journalistic standards than Goodman does.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 10, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Barack gets semi-called on sexism and makes more insulting remarks in response to being called out, the House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing, Ron Paul holds a press conference with Chuck Baldwin, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, and more.
Today the US House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Security and Stability in Afghanistan and Iraq: Developments in US Strategy and Operations and the Way Ahead. Appearing before the committee were US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm Michael Mullen, DoD's Under Secreatry of Defense for Policy, Eric S. Edelman and the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Adm James Winnefeld. Ike Skelton is the chair of the committee and his opening remarks included that "I remain concerned about the pace of political progress. The Iraqis have still not been able to even come to an agreement on holding provincial elections, much less address more fundamental questions like the future of Kirkuk. Given this, I have a real question of why we are not redeploying additional forces -- both to bolster our efforts in Afghanistan and to keep the pressure on the Iraqis to come to a sustainable political accomodation." Later in the hearing he would note the "Sun Tzu precept that says 'A war should not be entered into without considering the end of that war'."
The highest ranking Republican on the committee, Duncan Hunter, made a fool of himself as was expected. His dubious statements included, "We are winning in Iraq. The United States is going to be leaving in victory." During Robert Gates' opening remarks he noted these "challenges:"
* Political progress remains too slow -- as seen recently by the inability of the parliament to pass an election law. This means that provincial elections, which we believe will continue and enhance the process of reconciliation, will in all likelihood be pushed back until at least December. Elections also mean the possibility of increased violence.
* There have been some worrisome reports about sectarian efforts to either disrupt or slow the process of assimilation of the Sons of Iraq ["Awakening" Council] into the Iraqi Security Forces. It is a reminder that sectarin tenaions still exist and have the potential to undo recent progress at the local and national level.
* Despite Iran's pledges last year to stop providing weapons, training and funding to armed militias, evidence suggests that this support continues. [These are Gates' words. There is no proof/evidence that Iran has supplied anything. There has never been proof of that.]
* Iraqi security forces still lack many key capabilities. Many of their operations would simply not have been possible without Coalition enablers. That will remain the case for some time to come.
* The threat from al Qaeda and other militant groups has receded, but is still very real. In the last few months, we have seen a number of suicide attacks -- as well as tactical shifts, such as the increased use of women. This is a reminder that al Qaeda still retains the ability to inflict mass casualties, the operational capacity to assess and change strategies and is still trying to sow chaos and reassert itself. [Again, Gates' words. al Qaeda in Iraq has always been inflated and was not present until after the illegal war started. The administration tends to blame any and all violence on "al Qaeda in Iraq" unless they're targeting Iran for blame that day.]
* Similarly, there is the possiblity that Jaish al-Mahdi could return.
Gates insisted the US had "now entered that end game" in Iraq "and our decisions today and in the months ahead will be critical to regional stability and our national security interests for the years to come."
Chair Skelton had serious concerns about a number of issues and they included where the US money is going and why the Iraqi billions are not being spent. He noted two chief concerns, first that "they [Iraqis] have a lot of money on their own and number two the choice of projects" on which they spend money. At this point he requested that the committee be supplied with a list of all US expenditures over $120,000. He expressed concern over Iraq's stated plan "to build the world's largets ferris wheel" and wondered "why are we funding" construction such as hotels with US tax payer money when the central government in Baghdad sits on so many billions that are not being used?
No surprise, no one had an answer for Skelton though a list might be workable at some point.
US House Rep Susan Davis also wanted to know what was happening with the money. She pointed out that the Iraqi air force is lacking in training and equipment and that it went far beyond that with Iraqi security forces stating that even "batteries that are needed for communication" aren't in supply and "they're saying it's just not getting to them." Was it an issue of corruption, she wanted to know, where was the breakdown? Edelman replied, "We're now in the process of getting to those issues." Now? Five years after the illegal war began?
There were no answers supplied to the questions and neither side seemed overly surprised by that (Congress or the witnesses). Gates spoke of success while also maintaining that the United States would be in Iraq for many "years to come -- although in changing and increasingly limited ways." US House Rep Solomon Ortiz wondered, "What planning and work has been done to enable the next administration to make its own decision about force levels upon taking office after who wins the presidency? And what limits does the president's recent decision place on force level changes?"
Robert Gates: Mr. Ortiz, I think first of all, that the new president will have a full array of options when he enters office in terms of troop levels in -- in -- in Jan- in Iraq. Uhm. As I indicated in my opening remarks, I hope that whoever the new president is will listen closely to the commanders in the field and senior military leaders. I've made the comment before that those who worry and are concerned that the military view was not taken sufficiently into account at the beginning of the war would not neglect it as we get deeper into the end game. But-but there is nothing in place that would contrain the decisions of a new president in terms of policies or anything else that, uh, that a new president could not -- could not change. So new president will have complete flexibility and constrained only by his view of our national security interests.
He? There is a woman running for president. (Rep Michael Conway also referred to "our guys" repeatedly in the hearing. Just as Gates can't picture a woman as president, Conway is unaware that women serve in the US military.) Ron Paul ran for the Republican Party's presidential nomination and lost to John McCain. Last week, he held a rally with his supporters in Minnesota. NOW on PBS has an online exclusive with Paul and they also examined his campaign in 2007. Today, he held a press conference with Ralph Nader (independent presidential candidate, now to be on the ballots in 45 states), Cynthia McKinney (Green Party presidential candidate), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party's candidate) and Bob Barr (Libertarian Party presidential candidate). Ralph Nader explains, "Today, along with other third party candidates, I joined Congressman Ron Paul to endorse a common agenda that stands up for the US Constitution by ending illegal wars, and protecting the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We also jointly called for an immediate halt to the increase in the national debt, an end to corporate subsidies and taxpayer bailouts of corporations, and to start aggressively pursuing prosecution of corporations that commit crimes and frauds. Both Congressman Paul and I also support holding President Bush and Dick Cheney to account for their transgressions against our Constitution. Today's coming together of third party candidates marks the beginning of the realignment of American politics." Third Party Watch reports:
Dr. Paul turned the podium over to the others, and Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party's presidential candidate, thanked him for bringing this group together. She recalled that "it took 72 years of struggle and sacrifice, from the beginning of the women's suffrage movement, for women to get the right to vote. I believe today we are starting a new movement of independence from the orthodoxy of our day." (Let's hope it doesn't take 72 years to achieve most of this group's goals!)
Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party's presidential candidate, said "the real issue in 2008 is not between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, but between globalists and constitutionalists. McCain and Obama are globalists. Baldwin is a constitutionalist."
McCain, Baldwin said, always refers to the U.S. as an "interdependent nation." "But the Founders didn't sign a Declaration of Interdependence. We are fighting for the preservation of our very form of government, and that's why what Ron Paul is doing today is so important, and why our coming together today is so important."
And, as Baldwin always reminds his audiences: "I supported Ron Paul. It's because the GOP rejected Ron Paul that I'm here today as a candidate."
Ralph Nader, the Independent candidate for President, seemed the most enthusiastic and optimistic about Paul's coalition. "I think when McKinney, Barr, Baldwin and Nader agree with Ron Paul on these four major areas--I think that's the beginning of a realignment in American politics." And later: "I'm very proud that we've been able to put aside our differences on other subjects--such as health and safety regulations [chuckles from the audience]--to come together on these four important subjects."
"Awakening" Councils were cited by Gates. Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) argues that female members are essential: "To combat this threat, Iraqis have begun recruiting women for the Daughters of Iraq, a female counterpart to the Sons of Iraq community policing program largely credited with reducing violence in Iraq. While female security guards remain a small minority, they've stopped many female insurgents. And, some say their example could help change perceptions about the role of women in Iraq." That's a nice little fantasy since female members are paid 20% less than their male peers and, remember, all "Awakening" Council members have been and are currently paid by the US government. Translation, the White House has said a man doing the same job as a woman is worth more.
Moving over to provincial elections which were mentioned repeatedly in today's hearings. Nicholas Spangler and Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) explain the stalemate remains the oil rich city of Kirkuk, "A loose but powerful coalition of Arab parties is wary of Kurdish control prior to elections; Kurds remain adamentally opposed to any law mandating power sharing in Kirkuk, as the current [election] bill does. The reporters explain the stalemate has some floating the option of going with the a 2005 election law. The United Nations is working on their proposal which is to be presented later this month or at the beginning of October. The United Nations' Staffan de Mistura met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Sunday as part of the research required for the plan they intend to present.
Yesterday Bully Boy gave his speech on Iraq. Nancy A. Youssef and Jonathan S. Landay (McClatchy Newspapers) examine it and note, "President Bush's announcement Tuesday that he'll maintain troop levels in Iraq through the end of his presidency suggests that despite his claim that the surge of additional U.S. troops in Iraq has succeeded, the security gains could be temporary, defense officials and experts said." Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) noticed that the speech also indicated that other countries are leaving the so-called 'coalition': "The presence of other countries in Iraq, even if the troop contribution was modest, has long been used by the Bush administration as a way of deflecting criticism that its actions in Iraq were "unilateral." Now, Bush is portraying their departure as a sign of "return on success," his policy of bringing home troops as conditions improve in Iraq."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Salahuddin Province car bombing wounded three people. Reuters notes an Iskandariya roadside bombing that left two police officers wounded.
Reuters notes 1 "Christian man" was shot dead in Mosul.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 4 in Mosul.
Back to the race for the US presidency. War Hawk Barack Obama's in trouble for doing something so it was time for all his lovers in the press to come out in full force and defend their Christ-child.
Here's what he said.
Barack Obama: Let-let's just list this for a second. John McCain says he's about change too. Exc-and-and so I guess his whole angle is 'Watch out, George Bush. Except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove style politics, we're really going to shake things up in Washington." That's not change. That's-that's just calling some the same thing something different But you know you can't e-e-e-e You know you can put uh liptick on a pig, it's still a pig.
When he says "You can put lipstick on a pig," what is Barack doing? What is he physically doing? Chicago's gutter boy is flipping the bird and when the finger goes up the howls start. You can see it in the video his campaign/campaign surrogates issued as a response. We see Dick Cheney speak, no bird flipping.
You can watch it at Joe Garafoli's post (San Francisco Chronicle) which reads like "He's Sure The Boy I Love." Barack goes on to make a comment about fish smell. It's not in the video, they cut it before that point. CBS contributes, "CBS News reporter Maria Gavrilovic reports that as the crowd laughed, Obama added: 'You can you can, wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, it's still going to stink after 8 years. We've had enough of the same old thing'." Last week, Ruth took on sexist pig Ellen Susman who also had a "fish" 'joke' in her smear of Palin. Writing as if she was Susman, Ruth observed, "And let me call my post 'A Fish Called Sarah.' I will pretend like I think it is a Monty Python film and mention other Monty Python films. But even as stupid as I, Ellen Susman, am, I know it is not. Even as dumb as I am, I do know the "two things smell fish" 'joke.'" And so does Barack.
They weren't even his own words he was speaking -- which is why he stumbles (no teleprompter). Joseph (Cannonfire) explains, "His comments were cribbed -- word for word -- from a Washington Post cartoon. Why is Obama allowed to plagiarize when others are not?" Why indeed and this isn't the first time he's been caught stealing.
As Susan (Random Notes) sums up, "Well, Barack, if you'd have paid attention to presidential campaigns of the past, you would know better than to consider yourself immune to blasphemy, er, criticism, even fake criticism, from the other side." Delilah Boyd (A Scrivner's Lament) lays it out as plain as day, "Before you Obots go all 'Obama didn't call Palin a pig' on me, hear this: How much longer will men get away with 'I was just kidding,' 'I wasn't talking about you,' and 'What's the matter? can't you take a joke?'" miq2xu (Klownhaus) [language warning], "Regarding Obama's 'Lipstick on a Pig' comment, I call bull**it on Christy Hardin Smith, Marc Ambinder, D-Day, Taylor Marsh and Whoever Kidnapped Jeralyn Merritt (WKJM²) Each of these people has taken the position that not only were Obama's comments completely innocent, but that the McCain campaign is trying to manufacture a controversy because no reasonable person could possibly get the idea that Obama was calling Sarah Palin a pig. Even if someone truly believed that it was an innocent gaffe (I don't) it is easy to see how that connection could easily be made. I didn't need anyone to explain it to me, nor did most former Hillary supporters, because we 'periodically' saw these types of misunderstandings before." Lambert (Corrente) weighs in on Barack's pig remarks, "You know, if Obama hadn't indulged himself by getting snarky in front of a friendly crowd, he could be talking about the economy right now -- and winning P.T.A. moms too, who like those kitchen table issues." madamab (The Confluence) advises, "Case in point: When you call your opponent's vice president a pig and say she smells like fish, you do not try to pretend you didn't do it. You did it, in front of God and YouTube. So apologize and move on, otherwise you will engender anger and resentment."
On the topic of sexism, it bears noting that Feminist Wire Daily finally got active calling out sexism against Palin, "Donny Deutsch recently made sexist comments about Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former Democratic Presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Deutsch appeared on CNBC's Squawk the Street (Watch the video here) and made several misogynistic comments including praising Palin for earning respect through her ability to make men 'want to mate with her' and calling Senator Clinton's loss in the Democratic Primaries a direct result of the fact that she 'didn't put a skirt on.'" Egalia (Tennessee Guerilla Women) points to another with a need to sexualize Palin Salon's Gary Kamiya who needs to Palin as "a whip-wielding mistress". Last night Kat took on 'progressive' Ed Garvey's need to compare Palin to erectile medications, "The comparison is insulting; however, it may indicate what's in Garvey's own medicine cabinet."
Now before we get to today's remarks by Barack (which are even more insulting to women -- if anyone actually listens), Kirsten Powers (New York Post) provided the backstory leading up to Palin's speech last week, "No, Obama didn't engage in the mass sneering at Palin - but he did fall into the trap of disrespecting her. When McCain chose her, the Obama campaign's first response was to ridicule the size of her town. Then the candidate himself began referring to her as a "former mayor" when she is in fact a sitting governor. When she retaliated (justifiably) by mocking his stint as a organizer, the Obama camp was clearly rattled. Obama himself actually began arguing about the importance of community organizing. His supporters amplified this cry - claiming Palin's attack was a racist slur and passing around e-mails titled 'Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor.' Meanwhile, the rest of the country was probably wondering what being a community organizer has to do with being president."
Today, Barack spoke. And what did the Christ-child say? It's wowed some of the usual PIG MEN, Queen Bees and Gender Traitors. From CNN (text and video), this is Barack: "We have real problems in this country right now. The American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, not diversions, not manipulations. They want real answers to the real problems we are facing."
Sexism isn't a real problem to Barack Obama. It's an annoyance for him to have to address sexism. He's laughing in the video. He finds it all so funny. (I find his attempt to grow a mustache hilarious. That's day two by the way.) "This is what they want to talk about," insists Barack. And talking about it means he's not able to address "the issues that matter to you." Barack, you sad PIG, sexism matters to me and to many. It's not a "diversion" or a "distraction" (his words), it is a very real issue.
And it took Katie Couric calling it out to finally get the MSM to notice it. And what was the Obama campaign's response? Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman (New York Times) reported in June what US House Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz told them on behalf of Team Obama, "She said Mr. Obama had no specific plans for a speech on sexism, partly because he already incorporates themes of discrimination as a societal problem into his speeches."
But Barack's bothered that he had to even get near the topic today. He calls it unfair. He didn't think it was unfair when his Cult was tarring Bill Clinton as a racist for using "fairytale." He used the odor of fish and lipstick on a pig to insult a woman. All Bill Clinton did was point out Barack was a damn liar about his positions on the illegal war.
Sexism can be used by Barack's campaign and by Barack but the Christ-child must never have to address the topic and sends out flunkies (he hides behind a lot of women) to insist that he's already addressed an "ism" and wasn't that enough? No. No, it is not enough. In March 2008, he decied to bore the country with a never-ending stream of words (4,683) allegedly on the topic of race. (It wasn't about race it was about the only topic he enjoys getting wordy on: Himself.) He can't address sexism?
He has two daughters and he can't address sexism? He said of Hillary Clinton that "periodically" when Hillary was "feeling blue" "the claws come out." He's now going after Sarah Palin and wants yet another pass? He can't address sexism but, as Marie Cocco's "Obama's Abortion Stance When 'Feeling Blue'" (Washington Post Writers Group) pointed out, he's got plenty of time to speak to anti-women men:
Obama says that these women should not be able to obtain a late-term abortion, because just "feeling blue" isn't the same as suffering "serious clinical mental health diseases." True enough. And totally infuriating. During the recent Obama pander tour -- the one in which he spent about a week trying to win over conservative religious voters -- the presumptive Democratic nominee unnecessarily endorsed President Bush's faith-based initiative, a sort of patronage program that rewards religious activists for their political support with public grants. Then in a St. Louis speech, Obama declared that "I let Jesus Christ into my life." That's fine, but we already have a president who believes this was a qualification for the Oval Office, and look where that's gotten us.Obama's verbal meanderings on the issue of late-term abortion go further. He has muddied his position. Whether this is a mistake or deliberate triangulation, only Obama knows for sure. One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are "feeling blue."
When Palin entered the race and made her "lipstick" line, the game changed. If Hillary had been the Democratic nominee and had chosen Joe Biden for her running mate, John McCain could declare that they were negative and refer to their "dark vision" for America's future. With Barack as the nominee, his use of that term would be called out immediately. With Barack in the race, the game changes. It's the same thing with Sarah Palin being in the race. Barack's remarks yesterday were pre-pared as evidenced by the fact that he stole a huge chunk from a cartoon. If he and his team are too stupid to grasp how those remarks would play, that's their own damn fault. He should have apologized.
Instead, he hides behind women and has them trot out to offer excuses and attacks. It's not going to work anymore than it does in a court room when a rapist hires a female attorney or a rapist's defense team uses the sole woman to cross examine the rape victim. If Barack can't even address sexism what does that really say about him? And what does it say about the women who allow him to hide? President of NOW's New York state chapter Marcia Pappas offers "To Women Who Love Their Political Party Too Much" and all -- men and women -- would benefit from reading that. And on a similar note,
To The Contrary's Bonnie Erbe (writing at US News & World Reports) explains:
Women can be sexist, too, you know, just like persons of color can be racist. As the media debate whether Gov. Sarah Palin's public treatment is sexist or not, take this punch, socked to Palin by a woman, that's as clearly out of bounds as a husband slapping his wife in the face in public.
As related by The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus today:
My colleague Sally Quinn put it most provocatively. "Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job?" Quinn wondered. "When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick, what choice will she make?"
Has Quinn ever asked the same question of a man running for vice president? Of course not, nor would she. What if the answer is, Sarah Palin would take the call at 3 a.m. and jump on any plane to anywhere in the world, confident that her husband would care for the sick child? To pose the question is to promote idiotic and sexist media viewpoints, while ignoring the much more important flaws in the Palin candidacy.
iraqmcclatchy newspapersnancy a. youssefjonathan s. landaymichael abramowitzthe washington post
katie couricthe cbs evening news
the new york timeskatharine q. seelyejulie bosman
mcclatchy newspaperssahar issanicholas spanglernow on pbspbs
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
We've been conditioned by the mass media to believe there are only two political parties worthy of our attention. Because only the Republican Party and the Democratic Party receive significant coverage, especially during election cycles, it's easy to forget that other parties do indeed exist.
Case in point: While Democratic presidential-nominee Barack Obama filled the Kohl Center to an over-capacity crowd of over 17,000 during his trip to Madison in February prior to the Wisconsin presidential primaries, Independent candidate Ralph Nader, running for president for the fifth time, struggled to fill the small Orpheum Theatre this past Friday on State Street, which has a capacity that is only 10 percent of the Kohl Center at 1,700.
Most students here probably didn't even know Nader would be speaking at the Orpheum, and those who did know scoffed at the idea of him running for president again. The situation is shameful -- because over the past eight years, the two mainstream parties have failed us and no one really seems to care, nor do they really want to do anything about it.
With wars on two fronts both deemed failures by the general public and key congressional leaders involvement in Jack Abramoff’s money laundering scandal, the odds were rightfully stacked against the Republicans for the 2006 midterm elections. And indeed, they resulted in sweeping changes in the United States' political landscape from the local level all the way on up.
Democrats gained 31 seats in the House of Representatives and five seats in the Senate, drastically altering the landscape of Congress. Democrats won these seats under the premise that Washington -- under the leadership of the Republican Party -- was broken, and a change in leadership was necessary to fix it. Two years later, looking at the voting records of the spineless Democrats, they have, by-and-large, failed us.
There is much more and you really should read it. I think many of you will agree with the column but I hope you grasp that a student wrote it. If you ever wonder about the state of the future, wonder but don't worry. Young people are not the stereotypes the popular press plays them as. There are many like Steve Horn who are already ahead of the game because they have sized up the situation.
That is one of the things that Ralph Nader is accomplishing this year, waking up people up. I don't mean Horn, necessarily, because he may very well have 'awakened' at 14 or even earlier. But Nader's run is forcing questions about issues, yes, but about the basic fairness of what we think of as 'free' elections in our alleged democracy. Nader's a presidential candidate and there is a good chance he will not be invited to the presidential debates. His run is demonstrating just how rigged the system is.
It's done that by the battle's he's had to fight for ballot access as well.
It's also demonstrated how so many 'left' voices who profess to care about changing the country for the better are nothing but reactionaries. They told him not to run and then they ignored him when he did while insisting that they were a way forward. They are just more of the same, just more people standing in the way of real progress.
When push comes to shove, they'd rather chase after the Democratic Party than do anything to advance the possibilities of real change and real awareness.
They talk a good game but it's going to be much harder for them in the near future because they have exposed themselves as craven and unwilling to stand when it's time to stand.
Yesterday, I highlighted Ava and C.I.'s "TV: More sexism, more self-promotion." I'm at C.I.'s for the week and a friend was over this evening and asked if I noticed that Amy Goodman continues to mispronounce Sarah Palin's name? Ava and C.I. cover it in their commentary. I honestly hadn't noticed because I have no use for Amy Goodman. C.I. has the show on in the morning while working on the morning entries at The Common Ills. I am still asleep. C.I.'s trying to stay on the same schedule as much as possible.
So I didn't hear Goodman mispronounce Sarah Palin's last name today. (C.I. listens at five in the morning.) But it goes to how little self-respect she has and that's hardly surprising when you realize that the self-proclaimed "queen of independent media" has refused to use her own power to put Nader, Cynthia McKinney, etc. on equal footing with the two major political party candidates.
She has demonstrated that she's really not capable of transformation, just being a photo negative of the other dominant narrative.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, September 9, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Bully Boy lies about the illegal war (again), the puppet 'government' continues their tag sale on Iraqi resources, Kuwait is all over the map, Iraq's Parliament resumes sessions, Ralph Nader has big news, and more.
Today Bully Boy spoke at Eisenhower Hall at the National Defense University. He hailed the 'handover' of Al Anbar Province as a "remarkable event," referred to the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr as "Shia extremist groups" and more blah blah before he got to the only reason anyone was paying attention to him: drawdowns. "By November," he declared, "we'll bring home a marine battalion that is now serving in Anbar Province. And in Feburary of 2009, another army combat brigade will come come home. This amounts to about 8,000 additional American troops returning home without replacement." Reality, Bully Boy leaves the White House in January. Anything done prior to that he is over, anything after that, he can't promise. So today's announcement went beyond what many were expection in that he's promising a marien battalion will be brought back in November without a replacement sent back in. And that's the only thing he announced regarding Iraq.
Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported before the speech and didn't grasp that Bully Boy cannot make any promises regarding what the incoming president will do. Not only does Bully Boy not have that power, considering stop-loss and tour extensions, reporters should be a little less quick to repeat hollow 'announcements' when it is the service members and their families that are harmed when 'announcements' don't come to pass. Dan Eggen (Washington Post) demonstrated how you report 'announcements' of events that would take place after a new president was sworn in: "President Bush will announce today that the number of U.S. combat brigades in Iraq will remain steady until after he leaves office, deferring any further decisions about troop withdrawals to his successor, according to a copy of his speech released by the White House." That is what Bully Boy did, he left it in the hands of the next president. The illegal war he started over five years ago is one he will leave office without ending and without any major reductions in the number of US troops stationed in Iraq.
The point is not lost on all. CQ Politics reports, "Missouri Democrat Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services commitee, said the president's action merely defers decisions until the next administration." The point is lost on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who is quoted foaming at the mouth, "Given the increasingly violent situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I am stunned that President Bush has decided to bring so few troops home from Iraq and send so few resources to Afghanistan." 146,000 US service members are stationed in Iraq and Harry Reid's big concern is not ending the illegal war it's getting them out of Iraq . . . to ship them off to Aghanistan.
Let's drop back to the 90s, via Caroline Frost (the BBC), to remember what War Hawk Democrats (Reid is one) really think: "UN ambassador Madeleine Albright asked him, 'What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking about if we can't use it?' For General Colin Powell, this most military of politicians who has watched men die, the answer was, and remains, simple. 'American GIs are not toy soldiers to be moved around on some global game board'." Someone needs to tell that to Harry Reid -- not Powell, of course, he destroyed his name long ago. At the White House today, Dana Perino had laughs at Harry's expense with remarks during a press briefing which included: "Look, I don't know who briefs Senator Reid and I don't know what sort of staff work he gets or the updates he gets. . . . Well, you know, when Senator Reid becomes Commander-in-Chief he'll have a little bit more credibility on that score." Also during the briefing, Perino was asked why Bully Boy didn't announce a large draw-down and she pushed US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Admiral Mike Mullen and Gen David Petraeus' recommendations before declaring, "So I can't say why he didn't choose something else. But he accepted their recommendation." Asked why the number of the draw-down wasn't larger after the White House has repeatedly sold the 'success' in Iraq (and Bully Boy sold it in his speech today) which resulted in a jumbled response by Perino: "Well one thing President Bush has said, and he asked his commanders, is how do we make sure that the gains that we have made in security are cemented enough so that when we do pull back, it won't be -- it won't mean that terrorists come back and fill that space. So President Bush thinks that taking 8,000 troops out is the recommendation from the Pentagon, and the one that is prudent right now. And Secretary -- I'm sorry, General Petraeus believes that further reductions are possible in the first half of 2009, but it's going to have to depend on conditions on the ground. And so we'll continue to look at it. I think that either way, the President -- people would question -- should he send more/should he send less? He thinks that he hit it just right, that the Pentagon's recommendation was about the right size." What she eventually gets out are the talking points the White House repeats over and over. The news is in the stumble it took for her to arrive at them.
Like Thom Shanker, CBS News fails to grasp that the Bully Boy has no control over the next presidency so his 'promises' for 2009 are meaningless. They do point out that prior to the escalation (the so-called 'surge'), the US had 136,000 service members stationed in Iraq. Ther are approximately 146,000 stationed in Iraq today. Not only does what Bully Boy can promise not bring the number down to pre-'surge' levels, even including what he 'promises' someone else will do does not bring it down to pre-'surge' levels. AFP notes, "The decision means the president's successor will take office in January with the US military presence in Iraq at about 140,000 troops -- still a bigger deployment than two years ago despite the deep unpopularity of the war."
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi bungles it with her statements almost as badly as Reid does, "After five and a half years of war, President Bush will leave office with nearly as many U.S. troops in Iraq as were there before the 'surge' began in January 2007. The continued heavy commitment of U.S. forces is hampering our ability to fight the real war against terrorism in Afghanistan, is hurting our military readiness, and is extending the strain of long deployments on our military families. The President is incapable of finding a way to make our troops the beneficiaries of whatever improvements there have been in security in Iraq." Pelosi, facing a serious challenge in the November election from Cindy Sheehan, had no reason to toss in Afghanistan. Strip that out and her only word problem is minor (there will be more US forces in Iraq than prior to the 'surge'). The larger problem -- that she herself has done little (though Pelosi blames that on the US Senate) -- may make her statements hard for many to believe in but when she starts playing the idiot on Afghanistan, she's begging the eighth district to send Cindy to Congress.
And let's drive this point home because not only can Bully Boy not make promises for the next president, the situation changes all the time and the ones hurt are the service members and their families. For those with short (or non-existant) memories in the press corps, August 2006, AP reported: "About 300 Alaska-based soldiers sent home from Iraq just before their unit's deployment was extended last month must now bo back, the Army said Monday, setting up a wrenching departure for troops and families who thought their service there was finished." So instead of propping up a lame-duck on his way out, the press should be very careful about how they 'report' announcements. Bully Boy can turn around tomorrow and decided that the November return (the only one in his speech he has any control over) won't happen. The same urge to treat every stammer out of his mouth as gospel was present in the lead-up to the illegal war. Wasn't the press have supposed to learned from that? For those still confused, follow the example of Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London): "George W. Bush plans to withdraw 4,000 troops from Iraq before the end of his presidency as the Pentagon starts to shift its focus to Afghanistan, the White House said yesterday."
While on the topic of service members, yesterday the US Defense Dept announced a new service, Wounded Warrior Resource Center for service members and their families who "have concerns or other difficulties during their recovery process" and the WWRC can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (800) 342-9647.
Turning to the topic of fleecing, the US installed puppet government continues signing deals on behalf of the occupied country of Iraq. Nicholas Spangler and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) report an agreement was reached "with Royal Dutch Shell to exploit the immense amount of natural gas in souther Iraq". AFP notes the deal is to be finalized in October and "Royal Dutch Shell will form a gas venture with energy-rich Iraq worth up to four billion dollars, the oil ministry said Tuesday of the first Western oil major to do a deal with the central government since the 2003 invasion." Yesterday the Jerusalem Post noted, "The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain and Kuwait are sending ambassadors to Iraq, and other countries are considering following suit." Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports today that Abdullah Ibrahim al-Shehhi, UAE's Ambassador to Iraq, arrived in Baghdad today and was welcomed by Iraq's Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi who stated, "It is a message to all states which are still hesitant to open their diplomatic missions in Iraq. This new, heavy diplomatic presence in Iraq is proof that Iraq has started to recover from the last five years of crisis." But let's not pretend it was all about the diplomacy and not about the coin. Azzaman explains, "Foreign investors from Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq are offering to set up oil refineries in southern Iraq." And the renewal of diplomatic ties also comes as UPI reports, "Officials in the United Arab Emirates are examing a proposal to build a $200 billion, 112-mile canal to transport oil around the volatile Strait of Hormuz." Staying with the topic of coin, Erica Goode and Muhafer al-Husaini (New York Times) note the Sunni thugs who stopped attacking the US and Iraqis when the US put them on the payroll ("Awakening" Council) heard Brig Gen Tarek Abdul Hameed declare that the puppet government in Baghdad would indeed pick up their payrolls.
Meanwhile on the legislative front, Iraq's Parliament is back in session after their summer recess. Robert H. Reid (AP) observes, "Tuesday's session was held in the Baghdad Convention Center inside the U.S.-protected Green Zone, despite an announcement last June that the assembly would meet in the former National Assembly building outside the zone." Mohammed Abbas and Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) report Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, Speaker of Parliament, is calling a meeting of "the heads of political parties" tomorrow to address the stalled provincial elections. Meanwhile Sunday Nicholas Spangler (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that Iraq sent their finance minister to Kuwait today re: Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1991 in order to discuss "payment of debts and compensation" for that action. The visit was put on hold. CNN reports Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Ahmed al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, will visited Baghdad "soon". Well that is interesting . . . as is [PDF format warning] this: "The Defense Security Cooperation AGency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Kuwait of AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM Missiles as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $178 million. . . . The proposed sale will improve Kuwait's capability to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-air weapons. Kuwait will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. . . . The prime contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Corporation, Tucson, Arizona."
Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report on yesterday's attack on civilians in Baghdad, "Bodyguards of the minister of displacement and migration, who has been telling Iraqis it is safe to come home after five years of war, were involved in a rush-hour shooting Monday that police said killed a woman and injured six other people. Circumstances surrounding the incident were unclear. The ministry said traffic police fired toward the minister's convoy and that the bodyguards only fired into the air. Police said the bodyguards were trying to clear traffic by shooting into the air and that one of them accidentally aimed his gun into nearby cars. Witnesses said the shooting was the result of a dispute between the ministry bodyguards and traffic police." Nicholas Spangler and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) quote an eye witness (unnamed police officer) who states, "I saw guards carrying maching guns shooting randomly. First, they killed a woman who was trying to cross the intersection. After that they opened fire on the traffic policeman who was doing his job. They shot him twice and he was injured. He fell down on the street. Then they left the cards and were walking with machine guns and pistols in their hands."
Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the latest assasination attempt on an official via a Baghdad bombing targeting Gen Hasen Maeen ("Prime Minister's office") that wounded him "and two of his security personnel" while journalist Jawad al-Hattab ("bureau chief of al-Arabiyah") was targeted with a car bombing as well but discovered it before it detonated and was unharmed, a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed 1 life and left six people wounded and a Salahuddin Province bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more wounded.
Reuters notes 1 person shot dead and another wounded outside of Mussayab, 1 "local aid agency" official shot dead in Mosul, 1 police officer shot dead in Mosul, 1 person shot dead in Kut and 1 person shot dead outside Suwayra.
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.
Turning to the US presidential race. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader can announce that the plan for the Nader-Gonzalez ticket to be on the ballot in 45 states by September 20th happened nine days early. Ralph and his running mate Matt Gonzalez (and their team of supporters) have already advanced the independent run further than in 2004 and have had to jump through obstacles of ballot access that no one should have to.
In addition to that news, Team Nader picked an endorsement, from Jaclyn E.'s "Ralph Nader for President" (Teen Ink):
Choosing between the Republican and Democratic candidate would mean choosing the lesser of two evils. Instead, I prefer to align myself with a candidate who shares my views on stabilizing the economy, preventing war, and downsizing the government. This candidate is Ralph Nader.
Nader is the only presidential candidate who has experience running his own business. He has applicable knowledge of the economy and strives to distribute wealth equally. He was quoted on "Meet The Press" as saying: "There is a two-tier economy where the top 10 percent is doing quite well, the top one percent spectacularly. But the top one percent of the richest people in this country have financial wealth equal to the combined 95 percent of the American people. That's a very unhealthy inequality." In order to fix this, Nader proposes to repeal the Bush administration tax cuts and adjust the federal income tax. This shows that he is driven to help the average American survive the current economic slump. Nader also wants to help America move past Congress's war-happy regime. He proposes a "draft from the top," meaning when an administration approves a war, the service-aged children of all members of that Congress and Cabinet will be the first to serve. This would ensure that elected officials think carefully before declaring war. Nader also supports pulling out of Iraq within six months and trying to negotiate with Iran. He wants to take our men and women in uniform out of Iraq and bring them home where they belong.
Team Nader announces:
Drop $11 on Nader/Gonzalez.
At the beginning of this campaign, we made a promise:
Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 45 states by September 20.
Today -- Tuesday, September 9, 2008 -- eleven days ahead of schedule -- we declare victory.
We have completed our ballot access efforts and we're set to be on in 45 states. On in more states than in 2000 (43).
On in more states than in 2004 (34).
On in 45 states.
Now, the American people will have a choice.
To vote for a campaign free from corporate influence.
But, as you probably have figured out by now, we are not a campaign that rests on its laurels.
So, today we are proud to announce the launch of our eight-week Nader/Gonzalez Get Out the Vote drive.
We need to raise $80,000 by September 17.
This money will be used to reach out to Americans throughout this country.
We're planning on deploying 30 full-time field staff.
Ordering tens of thousands of lawn signs.
Printing hundreds of thousands of pamphlets.
And making hundreds of thousands of phone calls.
To inform the American people that they now have a choice in November.
And to get them to vote for Nader/Gonzalez.
Want health care for all? Vote Nader/Gonzalez.
Need a living wage? Vote Nader/Gonzalez.
Want to transform the country to a solar energy economy? Vote Nader/Gonzalez.
Want to reverse course in the Middle East? Vote Nader/Gonzalez.
Help us celebrate this historic opportunity the only way we know how.
With action for a change.
So, donate $11 now to the Nader/Gonzalez Get Out the Vote Fund.
(If you give $100 or more now, we will send to you In Pursuit of Justice, the 520-page book of essays by Ralph Nader -- essays on corporate power, the Constitution, and transforming our country. If you donate $100 now, we will send you this historic collection -- autographed by the man himself -- Ralph Nader. (This offer ends at 11:59 p.m. September 17, 2008))
So, let's start to spread the word.
Nader/Gonzalez on in 45 states.
Time to crank it up.
And get out the vote.
Let's get it done. Onward to November.
iraqthe new york timeserica goode
thom shankermudhafer al-husainidan eggenthe washington postthe los angeles timestina susmancaesar ahmedmcclatchy newspapershussein kadhimnicholas spangler
teen inkjaclyn e.