Saturday, November 29, 2008

November 30, 2008

Obama’s first problem is US war crimes

The president-elect has to take a stand on Bush’s dark legacy

A small and largely unnoticed spat among the transition planners for the president-elect, Barack Obama, broke out last week. It was the first genuinely passionate debate among the Obamaites and it centres on a terribly difficult and terribly important decision that will be among the first that Obama has to make.

How does he deal with the legacy of criminal actions of his predecessor’s administration when it comes to detention, interrogation, abuse and torture of terror suspects? That has long hovered in the back of the minds of those of us who supported Obama, in large part because he alone had the moral authority to draw a line underneath the criminality of the George Bush-Dick Cheney years and restore credibility and honour to America’s antiterror policies...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Big to Succeed?

By Steven Pearlstein
Monday, November 24, 2008; 10:24 AM

Of all the rescues mounted by the government so far this year, none carries with it more symbolism, or more irony, than that of Citigroup.

Until recently, Citi was not only the largest U.S. financial institution, but the very embodiment of the new financial order. Under the relentless empire building of former chief executive Sanford Weill, it was Citi that brought down the old regulatory wall that had separated commercial banking from investment banking and insurance.

The combination of Citibank with Solomon Smith Barney under the bright red umbrella of Travelers Insurance was accepted with a regulatory wink and nod by the Federal Reserve while then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan worked to persuade Congress to make it legal by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, put in place during the Great Depression to prevent another market crash like that of 1929. Now that another market crash has required the government to rescue Citi, there will certainly be those who wonder whether the New Dealers didn't have it right all along...

Looking Deeper into Palin's Beliefs

As the Republican Party attempts to regroup and begins to splinter between the moderate and far right wings, progressive thinkers will have to be conscious of any tendency to smugness. No need to worry, some say. If Palin's crowd comes out on top of the power struggle they will be so extreme and irrelevant that they will attract insufficient numbers to ever pose a significant threat again. They can be gleefully consigned to history there to be viewed occasionally as a bizarre relic of a disturbed and wacky time in the country's political journey.

However, things will not necessarily be that simple. As the organizer of a large conference after the 2004 presidential election on The Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right, I am concerned that things may not unfold so smoothly. We know from the 1930's that a global depression can provide the most fertile ground for the rise of extremist politics. The militant nationalisms of that time would never have retained their grip on power without the economic desperation of the population and their longing for charismatic leadership that would restore the power and wealth of the nation and assign blame to the groups responsible for unemployment, idle factories, dropping incomes, diminished national pride, hopelessness and futility.

That is why Obama's first priority must be the economic well being of both the United States and the world. If we were to be faced with decline and poverty, the door would open to dark, nationalist forces that would undoubtedly take a religious form. And what would that form be? The conference in New York in spring 2005 examined a phenomenon known as Dominionism -- the belief that godly Christians are now mandated by the Lord to take political power to purify America, return it to its Christian origins, and create a biblical society with biblical laws for biblical crimes. The End Times would be upon us, the Book of Revelation would provide the geopolitical road map, and the spiritual war with secularists, Muslims and others would be conducted ruthlessly.

Well educated people and progressives do themselves a disservice if they dismiss this worldview as simply idiotic, unthinkable, and confined to a lunatic fringe. Sarah Palin's rise shows there is still an appetite in America for charismatic leadership devoid of political substance; for a pretty face, a down home manner, and a torrent of ugly, distorted political attacks delivered with a sexy vibe - the heels on and the gloves off...

...It's time to educate ourselves more about The New Apostolic Reformation and the spiritual warfare to which Palin's Assemblies of God Church appears to subscribe. When the prayer warriors of this movement delight in the burning of a Transcendental Meditation Center and the persecution of African 'witches' as perceived results of their spiritual efforts, we should all be concerned. We can learn more from web sites like that are engaged in thorough investigations of the disturbing belief systems prevalent in Dominionist churches. Journalists need to ask Sarah Palin directly about her religious beliefs regarding spiritual warfare, the End Times, even the appearance of the Anti-Christ.

It's well known that certain fundamentalist circles suspect that Obama is 'The One,' a forerunner of the Beast foretold in the Book of Revelation. Check out the views of Hal Lindsey, author of the fundamentalist classic, The Late, Great Planet Earth. Could that suspicion lie behind their unwavering attempts to 'expose' his links to terrorists, his sympathy for Islam, his phenomenal charisma that, they feel, can only be explained by diabolical forces that stand behind him? No doubt Sarah Palin thinks of herself as a good mom, a nice person, a follower of Jesus, and a devoted public servant. But death threats against Obama immediately spiked when her inflammatory, lipsticked rhetoric began to work its influence on the minds of unthinking people...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Presidents Kill People, Especially Bush
By Cenk Uygur

It's a weighty job. It's no exaggeration to say that the president makes life and death decisions all the time. We were interviewing Michael Isikoff of Newsweek yesterday on The Young Turks and we discussed this part of his latest story:

As NEWSWEEK reported last summer, President Bush approved more relaxed rules of engagement for U.S. forces along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The Pentagon once required "90 percent" confidence on the part of intelligence agencies that a "high-value target" was present before approving Predator strikes inside Pakistan. Under the revised rules, U.S. officials on the ground now need only 50 to 60 percent confidence to shoot at compounds suspected of sheltering foreign fighters, according to knowledgeable U.S. sources who would speak of sensitive matters only anonymously.

Think about that. Even if you have a president with a conscience, one out of ten times someone is going to walk into the Oval Office and say, "I'm sorry Mr. President, our intelligence didn't pan out - we accidentally hit a wedding. Ten civilians killed."

That is tough. That is what Obama will have to deal with. Once you think about it that way, you almost don't want the job.

Now let's move on to a president without a conscience. George Bush. Think about the decision that Isikoff explains above. I understand hitting a target that has 90% certainty of being Al Qaeda fighters, simply because you'll almost never a hundred percent certainty. We can't have a president frozen with indecision or who never takes a shot no matter how certain his intelligence people are that we have Al Qaeda on the other end.

But I at least want the president up at night worrying about the consequences of his decisions. Every time he gives the order, people die. We just hope that we get it right most of the time (and even if you have the right guys, it should give you small amount of pause if you're human; let alone the tragedy of hitting the wrong people).

Look at what Bush does instead - lowering the bar to about 50% certainty that it's an actual enemy target. That means half the time he blows up a wedding, or a group of kids playing in the yard, or innocent men sitting in a coffee house, or a just an average family sitting around their kitchen table. And why is he doing this? Obviously, because he wants to get Osama bin Laden or another top Al Qaeda leader before he leaves office. In other words, for his reputation.

This is why I don't like George Bush. You're not supposed to say it in polite circles, but I think he is a despicable person. Yes, I mean that on a personal level. I think he shows sick indifference to the lives of others. Maybe it's standard fare for politicians to be more concerned about their own careers than the lives of others, but there is a line. Would you take a 50% chance that you'd kill innocent civilians? Could you live with that?

And think about this - why did he lower the bar recently? We're seven years out from 9/11. It's not like the hunt for Al Qaeda has taken on some new urgency now. No, what has taken on urgency is Bush's legacy as he prepares to leave office. That's the only thing that has changed. There is an inescapable conclusion here - Bush has ordered more innocent people to their deaths so that he can try to salvage his reputation before he leaves office.

Maybe the man doesn't think Pakistani lives are worth the same as our lives. What's the big deal if you have the wrong people? They're all Muslims that live in that area anyway, right? I know some conservatives definitely feel this way. But a president should be smart enough and decent enough to understand that there are real families with real human beings who didn't do anything to us there. They didn't have it coming.

Earlier I mentioned a kitchen table. We're used to our own kitchen tables. We know how they look and it feels like home to us. It almost seems strange to think of a family sitting around a kitchen table in North Waziristan. But they do. The husband comes home from probably a back-breaking day of work. They have aspirations for their kids. They're worried about the violent jihadists that are rumored to be in the area (like we're worried about crime in our neighborhoods). The wife is making soup. The son has just come in from playing soccer. The dad is at least glad to see his only son come home. And then boom. Lights out. We just dropped a bomb on the wrong house. They're all dead...

For the closing, please Click Here.

You can't make this stuff up:

Pictures That Make the Rude Pundit Feel Like He's Dropped Acid and Stepped into a Shark Tank

So there she was, the Future of the Republican Party, standing there yesterday like the spank-worthy centerfold of the LL Bean Christmas catalog, at a turkey farm, having just pardoned a fair fowl from becoming a crispy-skinned main course, as is the Chief Executive of a state's wont. And then she talked to the press. In front of a trough of blood and guts. While a farm worker was killing turkeys.

The Rude Pundit loves that worker - let's name him "Johnny Moustache" - for constantly looking at Palin and over to the side, where, one may assume, someone's telling him he needs to get to work, that the turkeys won't slaughter themselves. The Rude Pundit loves Johnny because the expression on his face says, "Are you really that fucking stupid? Are you really our fucking governor? Were you really almost the fucking vice president? Well, fuck me."

One could say that the media there set up Palin. And, goddamn, you gotta hope that's true, that some producer said, "Let's see if this bitch is as much of an idiot as everyone says she is," that the reporter intentionally asked if there were programs in Alaska "on the chopping block" and what Palin was going to cook at her family's Thanksgiving dinner. She's in charge of the turkey. No, really.

If you watch the un-blurred video of it, you will truly understand how hilarious it is. While Johnny offs the deliciously plump birds, Palin holds a cup of coffee and smilingly pontificates about life on the campaign trail, building up services in Alaska, the effect of oil prices on the state, how her kids are happy, how "neat" it was to come to the farm, how "You need a little bit of levity in this job," how she's there to "promote a local business" and not do something that "invites criticism." MSNBC reported that the photographer asked if she cared about the background; Palin said, "No worries."

And is there anything else you need to know about the end of the Republican Party than what's contained in this video? The disengagement from the reality that's right in their fucking faces?

(In case you don't watch it: what Johnny Moustache there is doing is sticking the thrashing bird into the funnel, cutting its throat, and letting blood drain out, occasionally pushing on the still kicking bird to squeeze more blood out, priming the pump, if you will. Welcome to the reality of Thanksgiving season. Gobble-gobble, motherfuckers.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How the mighty do fall: Ann Coulter pitching right-wing stock-tip scams

By David Neiwert Thursday Nov 20, 2008 4:00pm

I'm sure a lot of you were wondering what happened to Ann Coulter this election season. The right has trotted her out to wage culture wars reliably ever since 1998. But she hardly was visible at all this year.

Well, if you happen to be one of those lost souls who belongs to the Conservative Book Club, then you received one of these e-mails in your Inbox this week from Coulter.

Click here to see the full letter.

As you can see, it's a letter that starts out by teeing off the emerging right-wing meme attempting to blame Barack Obama for the current economic meltdown, mostly by noting that Wall Street firms donated more heavily to Obama's campaign than to John McCain's:

If you've been wondering why the financial industry is in meltdown -- and taking your 401(k) or investment portfolio down with it -- now you know.

Let's face it: The former frat boys who populate Wall Street today understand economics as well as the pinko professors whose courses they snored through.

Now, it's true that Democrats were heavily preferred by Wall Street campaign donors this year, but that has far more to do with their historic preference for lining up behind the perceived likely winners of a given election season. And even a blind pig -- or a right-wing pundit -- could sense before the season even started that the Republican brand was giving off the distinct odor of fetid slop.

But if those same Wall Street pinko-educated frat boys are as ignorant of economics this year as Coulter claims, then wouldn't they have been equally so in 2000 and 2004, when they gave heavily instead to Coulter's then-preferred candidate, George W. Bush? Something doesn't exactly add up here.

That's all just throat-clearing, though, for Coulter's main pitch: She's selling you a financial newsletter written by a fellow named Mark Skousen, whose PhD in economics seems to impress Coulter mightily (if only she gave as much credence to people who actually won the Nobel Prize in economics).

Three years ago, Skousen was selling the same scam through the Heritage Foundation, promising super-hot stock tips if only you subscribed to his pricey investment newsletter. No word on how that hot tech stock actually did -- but I'd wager it performed about as well the return on assisting former Nigerian prime ministers.

Skousen, however, is not just your average "conservative economist." He actually is an adherent of the same far-right school of "libertarian" economics as Ron Paul: he advocates a return to the gold standard, the dismantling of the IRS and the Federal Reserve, and most of the other conspiratorial nonsense that accompanies these theories. Like Paul, he's a devotee of the Ludwig Van Mises Institute, which promotes much of this malarkey, and he's likewise actually a Bircherite in libertarian clothing. Indeed, Paul was one of the headliners at Skousen's "FreedomFest" earlier this year in Las Vegas.

Like most of the Bircher wing of the libertarian movement, Skousen consistently takes a far-right political position on labor issues, too. He wrote a piece denouncing "card check" union organizing just last month.

Skousen is the nephew of the late noted John Birch/Mormon figure W. Cleon Skousen; his brother, Joel Skousen, is famous for promoting Patriot-style "New World Order" conspiracy theories. All three of them promote the far-right version of "constitutionalism," which is all about the belief that secret elites manipulate the economy and the political process, wield the IRS and Federal Reserve as political weapons along with a huge federal bureaucracy, all of which violates the original unamended (or "organic") Constitution.

So this is what Ann Coulter is reduced to these days: Shilling for Patriot-style right-wing moneymaking scams.

But then, I guess it isn't surprising that Coulter is heading down this same path. During the past campaign, she actually came out in support of Ron Paul.

Well, fools and their money are soon parted. And anyone foolish enough to take their investment advice from Ann Coulter will get everything they deserve.

But I'm wondering when we'll see Coulter turn up in late-night infomercials for gold Liberty Dollars with her own image stamped on them. Because that's the road -- the one leading to ignominious obscurity and irrelevance -- she's headed down.

And I can't think of a more deserved fate.
This is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House
By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet
Posted on November 20, 2008, Printed on November 20, 2008 /

U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.

Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton's White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisors to join Obama's team.

"What happened to all this talk about change?" a member of the Clinton foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn't lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."

Amid the euphoria over Obama's election and the end of the Bush era, it is critical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually looked like. Bill Clinton's boiled down to a one-two punch from the hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of U.S. militarism. Clinton took office and almost immediately bombed Iraq (ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged plot by Saddam Hussein to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush). He presided over a ruthless regime of economic sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and under the guise of the so-called No-Fly Zones in northern and southern Iraq, authorized the longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam.

Under Clinton, Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled as part of what Noam Chomsky described as the "New Military Humanism." Sudan and Afghanistan were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and "free trade" deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade radically escalated the spread of corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S. workers and devastated developing countries. Clinton accelerated the militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin America and supported privatization of U.S. military operations, giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East Timorese.

The prospect of Obama's foreign policy being, at least in part, an extension of the Clinton Doctrine is real. Even more disturbing, several of the individuals at the center of Obama's transition and emerging foreign policy teams were top players in creating and implementing foreign policies that would pave the way for projects eventually carried out under the Bush/Cheney administration. With their assistance, Obama has already charted out several hawkish stances. Among them:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Click on image to see enlarged version

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bin Ladin was a useful tool to the Bush Administration; that combination of war-profiteers, Likudnik double agents & psychopathic nihilists.

There MUST be a historical reckoning for all this. There's no choice.

Monday, November 17, 2008
Afghan article says US Bin-Ladin hunt phoney

The USG Open Source Center translates an article from the Persian Afghan press alleging that French troops were at one point close to capturing Usamah Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, but that American forces stopped them from doing so. It says that a forthcoming French documentary containing interviews with the French soldiers provides proof for the allegation. The argument is that the Bush administration needed Bin Ladin to be at large in order to justify its military expansionism.

Afghan article says US Bin-Ladin hunt phoney
Friday, October 3, 2008
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

Afghan article says US Bin-Ladin hunt phoney

Text of article, "Bin-Ladin on the run? The rumour which was fact", by Afghan independent secular daily newspaper Hasht-e Sobh on 29 September

So, the rumour was right: French soldiers trapped Usamah Bin-Ladin, but were not allowed by the Americans to arrest the apparent fugitive leader of Al-Qa`idah. A Bin-Ladin documentary just released by French documentary cinema examines this issue, an issue which has led to heated debate in the French media.

... Watching this revealing French documentary changes the rumours into disturbing facts."Bin Laden, the failings of a manhunt", produced by Emmanuel Razavi and Eric de Lavarene, two French filmmakers and reporters, assesses and confirms the claims of French soldiers that they could have killed Usamah within two operations, but the American forces prevented them. This film has not been broadcast publicly yet and is to be broadcast by Planet, a French network. ...

Facing the facts in this Usamah film is a bitter and disturbing experience and will make you nervous and wish that what it is that you are watching is just a baseless rumour, or a figment of Hollywood's imagination. But it is not. The pictures are real and you are facing a debate in documentary form. The only justification for the bloody presence of America in Afghanistan is the ambiguous existence of Usamah Bin-Ladin and the Al-Qa'idah terrorist network. ...
Dan Rather’s Lawsuit Shows Role of G.O.P. in Inquiry

When Dan Rather filed suit against CBS 14 months ago — claiming, among other things, that his former employer had commissioned a politically biased investigation into his work on a “60 Minutes” segment about President Bush’s National Guard service — the network predicted the quick and favorable dismissal of the case, which it derided as “old news.”

So far, Mr. Rather has spent more than $2 million of his own money on the suit. And according to documents filed recently in court, he may be getting something for his money.

Using tools unavailable to him as a reporter — including the power of subpoena and the threat of punishment against witnesses who lie under oath — he has unearthed evidence that would seem to support his assertion that CBS intended its investigation, at least in part, to quell Republican criticism of the network.

Among the materials that money has shaken free for Mr. Rather are internal CBS memorandums turned over to his lawyers, showing that network executives used Republican operatives to vet the names of potential members of a panel that had been billed as independent and charged with investigating the “60 Minutes” segment.

Mr. Rather attracted the ire of Republican bloggers and talk radio in particular after the segment, which was broadcast on a weekday edition of “60 Minutes” in September 2004. It purported to have unearthed evidence about favorable treatment extended to President Bush during his Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard.
Gazillionaires own 'the media'. Gazillionaires love tax breaks. The media has a conservative bias.


On the other hand, reality has a liberal bias.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla

(From Dick Cavett's Blog):

Electronic devices dislike me. There is never a day when something isn’t ailing. Three out of these five implements — answering machine, fax machine, printer, phone and electric can-opener — all dropped dead on me in the past few days.

Now something has gone wrong with all three television sets. They will only get Sarah Palin.

I can play a kind of Alaskan roulette. Any random channel clicked on by the remote brings up that eager face, with its continuing assaults on the English Lang.

There she is with Larry and Matt and just about everyone else but Dr. Phil (so far). If she is not yet on “Judge Judy,” I suspect it can’t be for lack of trying.

What have we done to deserve this, this media blitz that the astute Andrea Mitchell has labeled “The Victory Tour”?

I suppose it will be recorded as among political history’s ironies that Palin was brought in to help John McCain. I can’t blame feminists who might draw amusement from the fact that a woman managed to both cripple the male she was supposed to help while gleaning an almost Elvis-sized following for herself. Mac loses, Sarah wins big-time was the gist of headlines.

I feel a little sorry for John. He aimed low and missed.

What will ambitious politicos learn from this? That frayed syntax, bungled grammar and run-on sentences that ramble on long after thought has given out completely are a candidate’s valuable traits?

And how much more of all that lies in our future if God points her to those open-a-crack doors she refers to? The ones she resolves to splinter and bulldoze her way through upon glimpsing the opportunities, revealed from on high.

What on earth are our underpaid teachers, laboring in the vineyards of education, supposed to tell students about the following sentence, committed by the serial syntax-killer from Wasilla High and gleaned by my colleague Maureen Dowd for preservation for those who ask, “How was it she talked?”

My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.

And, she concluded, “never, ever did I talk about, well, gee, is it a country or a continent, I just don’t know about this issue.”

It’s admittedly a rare gift to produce a paragraph in which whole clumps of words could be removed without noticeably affecting the sense, if any.

(A cynic might wonder if Wasilla High School’s English and geography departments are draped in black.)

(How many contradictory and lying answers about The Empress’s New Clothes have you collected? I’ve got, so far, only four. Your additional ones welcome.)

Matt Lauer asked her about her daughter’s pregnancy and what went into the decision about how to handle it. Her “answer” did not contain the words “daughter,” “pregnancy,” “what to do about it” or, in fact, any two consecutive words related to Lauer’s query.

I saw this as a brief clip, so I don’t know whether Lauer recovered sufficiently to follow up, or could only sit there, covered in disbelief. If it happens again, Matt, I bequeath you what I heard myself say once to an elusive guest who stiffed me that way: “Were you able to hear any part of my question?”

At the risk of offending, well, you, for example, I worry about just what it is her hollering fans see in her that makes her the ideal choice to deal with the world’s problems: collapsed economies, global warming, hostile enemies and our current and far-flung twin battlefronts, either of which may prove to be the world’s second “30 Years’ War.”

Has there been a poll to see if the Sarah-ites are numbered among that baffling 26 percent of our population who, despite everything, still maintain that President George has done a heckuva job?

A woman in one of Palin’s crowds praised her for being “a mom like me … who thinks the way I do” and added, for ill measure, “That’s what I want in the White House.” Fine, but in what capacity?

Do this lady’s like-minded folk wonder how, say, Jefferson, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, et al (add your own favorites) managed so well without being soccer moms? Without being whizzes in the kitchen, whipping up moose soufflés? Without executing and wounding wolves from the air and without promoting that sad, threadbare hoax — sexual abstinence — as the answer to the sizzling loins of the young?

(In passing, has anyone observed that hunting animals with high-powered guns could only be defined as sport if both sides were equally armed?)

I’d love to hear what you think has caused such an alarming number of our fellow Americans to fall into the Sarah Swoon.

Could the willingness to crown one who seems to have no first language have anything to do with the oft-lamented fact that we seem to be alone among nations in having made the word “intellectual” an insult? (And yet…and yet…we did elect Obama. Surely not despite his brains.)

Sorry about all of the foregoing, as if you didn’t get enough of the lady every day in every medium but smoke signals.

I do not wish her ill. But I also don’t wish us ill. I hope she continues to find happiness in Alaska.

May I confess that upon first seeing her, I liked her looks? With the sound off, she presents a not uncomely frontal appearance.

But now, as the Brits say, “I’ll be glad to see the back of her.”

Glenn Greenwald
Sunday Nov. 16, 2008 06:39 EST
Marty Peretz's assistant is the latest to be elected spokesperson for the Moderate Americans

As we've seen many times and in many contexts, one of the most empty-headed, trite and deceitful pundit techniques is to take one's own viewpoint and, without an iota of polling data or other empirical support, attribute it to the "average/ordinary/moderate American" and then, with deep concern, warn political leaders that they will harm themselves politically -- will alienate the fair-minded moderate voters -- if they don't follow that view. Even for the most ideologically extreme pundits who rely on this tactic, it always just so happens that their own views -- magically -- are the same as the ones that just happen to be held by the majority of Good Centrist Voters as well.

There are few more mindless practitioners of this technique than Marty Peretz's assistant, Jamie Kirchick. In a New Republic article yesterday defending Joe Lieberman and urging that he keep his Homeland Security Chairmanship (TNR, of course, announced in 2004 that its editorial mission would be to ensure that the Democratic Party was led by Joe Lieberman's "principles"), Kirchick identified some of those who are advocating for Lieberman's removal -- Daily Kos, Joe Klein, Josh Marshall, Jane Hamsher -- and then declared:

"If Democrats follow the cues of this crowd, then the party will lose credibility among the moderate majority of the American electorate."

Indeed. It is Jamie Kirchick -- who spent the whole year embodying the most ludicrous extremes of neoconservatism, venerating John McCain and demonizing Barack Obama as a weak radical -- who, along with Kirchick's ideological comrade, Joe Lieberman, is the symbol for the "moderate majority of the American electorate." Therefore, any opposition to the Kirchicks and Liebermans will doom the Democratic Party...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Scary: The Far-Right's Crazy Attacks on Obama Are Just Getting Started

By Bob Cesca, Huffington Post
Posted on November 13, 2008, Printed on November 13, 2008

This item has been promoted to the front page from AlterNet's blog section, PEEK.

For the last eight years, we've observed Karl Rove's non-reality based universe in which logic was entirely abandoned in lieu of whatever reality the administration invented in order to serve its ridiculous policies and to mask its glaring nincompoopery. Intellectually dishonest at best -- destructive and criminal at worst.

This didn't end on Election Day.

Since their thumpin' last week, the far-right has pushed the crazy to eleven and snapped the knob clean off -- an opening salvo of twisted hackery portending an insane four-to-eight years of attacks on the Obama administration. If the last seven days have been any indication, the far-right is shaping up to make the 1990s seem quaint -- even erudite by comparison. That which used to be your basic, off-the-shelf intellectual dishonesty has grown into, as Digby pointed out recently, full-on intellectual violence.

Intellectual violence. While not a new term, it perfectly defines what we're seeing now: accusations and smears that so severely confound logic they literally attack -- violate -- reality and the human intellect. It's like a berzerker dervish of argumentative elbows and fists indiscriminately flailing around, thwacking anything in its orbit, so much so that constructing a counterpoint is literally painful, "Why the hell am I trying to debunk this?! Ow! My head. Aw hell, I need a drink."

The "Impeach Obama" Facebook groups, for example. No, I'm not making that up. They're real and there's a constant variety of disgruntled far-right Republicans joining up every day. And, to our total lack of surprise, they're not ashamed in the slightest to post comments like this one:

"Damn dems stole the election like they always do. GOD wanted McCain and Palin in the White House. That's why it's called THE WHITE HOUSE."

Apart from being a racist, this "Impeach Obama" Facebook member is clearly the most awesome pollster in the world if he was able to sample God. I tried to submit a friend request just so I could ask him if he perchance enlisted a room of undecided cherubim for a Frank Luntz dial group.

Shortly after discovering this, I was talking with a colleague and found myself instinctively trying to form a rational argument about why the Facebook members were wrong. It began with the obvious: "He's not even the president yet!" And then, after I segued into Article II and the constitutional grounds for impeachment, I stopped myself. What in name of Randall P. MacMurphy am I doing? Arguing against this crap is like explaining to a meth tweaker that the shadow people aren't real. That's when I decided that it'd be more fun to just infiltrate one of the groups and post comments like, "The moon landing was staged!" and, "Obama is a bionic -- just like his half-aunt! I have proof!"...MORE

Influential Talk-Show Host Shifts Position: Cheney To The Hague

by: blueness

Thu Nov 13, 2008 at 03:56:00 AM EST

For 30 straight years KGO has been the most listened-to AM radio station in the San Francisco Bay Area. From dusk till dawn, it can also be heard throughout the entirety of the west coast, from Canada to Mexico. KGO pioneered the talk-radio format, long before it was seized and exploited by the rightwing noise machine. The station employs local, non-syndicated hosts, all of whom consistently rank first in their time slots. Hosts run the left-coast political gamut, from the vacuous, muddle-headed centrist Ronn Owens, to the fiery renegade Ray Taliaferro, who contends that a close reading of scripture discloses that Jesus was gay, and most commonly refers to George II as "that idiot out of Texas."

Occupying the 7-10 p.m. time slot is Gene Burns, who has been in radio for more than 40 years, the past 14 at KGO. Burns is a recently lapsed Libertarian; he sought the party's presidential nomination in 1984, but, after supporting John Kerry in 2004, this year he made the great leap, and registered as a Democrat. He is a pedant, and something of a blowhard, but is extremely influential with more moderate listeners put off by the station's fire-breathing lefties. Burns has consistently opposed impeachment proceedings against George II and Darth Cheney as frivolous and unwarranted: these men have not, to his mind, committed impeachable offenses. Challenged by callers contending that these men approved the torture of fellow human beings, Burns has maintained that the United States has not tortured; even waterboarding, to him, does not constitute torture.

Wednesday night, all this changed. After viewing on his local PBS affiliate the documentary Torturing Democracy, Burns told his listeners, he realized he had been wrong. The United States has tortured. It has also engaged in extraordinary renditions, for the purpose of torture. While Burns still believes impeachment to be a non-starter, he has concluded that, in the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in other sites overseas, Dick Cheney is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and should be brought to trial before an international tribunal at The Hague. With the expectation that, in the course of Cheney mounting his defense, he may implicate George II as equally culpable in the commission of the same crimes.

There's More...
Did Republicans just admit that Katherine Harris stole 2000 election for Bush?
By John Amato Thursday Nov 13, 2008 4:00pm

This is too much. The Republicans are basically admitting that Katherine Harris stole the election for George Bush.

"Republicans are also questioning the credibility of Minnesota’s Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, the man tasked with overseeing the recount. A background document distributed by national Republicans portrays Ritchie as a far-left, Democratic version of Katherine Harris, the former Republican secretary of state whose actions helped decide the 2000 presidential election. The document accuses Ritchie, who was elected in 2006 with the assistance of a progressive-led group designed to elected Democratic election administrators, of having connections to the controversial voter registration group ACORN and the Communist Party of America."

As Al Franken gets closer to victory, the Republicans are unraveling. A recount is definitely on its way. Oh, what fun...

It's not just Limbaugh and Hannity

Beyond the echelon of widely known conservative radio hosts with national audiences lies a vast network of lesser-known syndicated and regional radio hosts who have become key components of an echo chamber for conservative talking points and falsehoods. Like their better-known counterparts, these syndicated and regional radio hosts have played active roles this election season in promoting falsehoods and smears in an all-out effort to foment hate and distrust among their listeners for the senator who is now president-elect.

Bill Cunningham
"Obama wants to gas the Jews."

Chris Baker
"I don't think homeless people should vote"; "I'm not that excited about women voting."

Quinn & Rose
"Gay sex produces AIDS."

Lee Rodgers
"With that screechy, fingernails-on-the-blackboard voice of hers, it is impossible for Hillary Clinton to deliver a great speech"

Mark Belling
"When you think of Hillary Clinton what do you think -- what word comes to mind? Yes, can I use that word here? All right, it's who bitches the most."

Neal Boortz
"Let's ask Obama how many prayer rugs he has."

Jon Caldara
On Hillary Clinton's performance in a debate: "This -- was it fair to say this woman got bitch-slapped tonight?"

Dan Caplis
On photo of Obama in African attire: "the kind of garb you often see Osama bin Laden in"

Mark Levin
"For now on, it's the National Organization of Really Ugly Women"

G. Gordon Liddy
"Obama is counting on the urban elites and the welfare class to win the state for him. But he's putting on a show for the rest of Pennsylvania."

"Gunny" Bob Newman
On Obama: "You're a far-left, terrorist-hugging politician, not the bad-boy gangsta you want people to believe you are."

Michael Savage
"I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."

(Warning: there's pics of some these bloviating morons. Wow. I guess irrational hate makes one ugly. That makes sense.)

Read more

Yesterday, in the spirit of great satire, the Yes Men published a fake edition of The New York Times from the future, filled with stories that many of us would love to see in print. Friedman's resignation is one of the editorials. I urge you to check it out, and forward it to everyone you know. It's truly priceless. Even the ads are biting and hilarious.


The End of the Experts?
By Thomas J. Friedman
Published: July 4th, 2009


But to have been so completely and fundamentally wrong about so huge a disaster as what we have done to Iraq — and ourselves — is outrageous enough to prove that people like me have no business posing as wise men, and, more importantly, that The New York Times has no business continuing to provide me with a national platform.

In any case, I have made a decision: as of today, I will no longer write in this or any other newspaper. I will immediately desist from writing any more books about how it’s time for everyone to climb on board the globalization high-speed monorail to the future. I will keep my opinions to myself.


Now the simple fact is, an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state is a war crime, even when linked to grand ideas of the future of mankind. In fact, that’s exactly what Hitler did, for exactly the same reasons. The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal called it the “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

What was I thinking? And more importantly, why didn’t anyone stop me?

more at: /

Excellent article on the right wing bloviators & why not to believe & repeat what they say instead of thinking for yourself.

Secrets of Talk Radio

The former news director of WTMJ reveals how talk show hosts like Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner work to get us angry.

by Dan Shelley

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Click image to see enlarged version

America the Illiterate

by Chris Hedges

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

The illiterate rarely vote, and when they do vote they do so without the ability to make decisions based on textual information. American political campaigns, which have learned to speak in the comforting epistemology of images, eschew real ideas and policy for cheap slogans and reassuring personal narratives. Political propaganda now masquerades as ideology. Political campaigns have become an experience. They do not require cognitive or self-critical skills. They are designed to ignite pseudo-religious feelings of euphoria, empowerment and collective salvation. Campaigns that succeed are carefully constructed psychological instruments that manipulate fickle public moods, emotions and impulses, many of which are subliminal. They create a public ecstasy that annuls individuality and fosters a state of mindlessness. They thrust us into an eternal present. They cater to a nation that now lives in a state of permanent amnesia. It is style and story, not content or history or reality, which inform our politics and our lives. We prefer happy illusions. And it works because so much of the American electorate, including those who should know better, blindly cast ballots for slogans, smiles, the cheerful family tableaux, narratives and the perceived sincerity and the attractiveness of candidates. We confuse how we feel with knowledge.

The illiterate and semi-literate, once the campaigns are over, remain powerless. They still cannot protect their children from dysfunctional public schools. They still cannot understand predatory loan deals, the intricacies of mortgage papers, credit card agreements and equity lines of credit that drive them into foreclosures and bankruptcies. They still struggle with the most basic chores of daily life from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out bank forms, car loan documents and unemployment benefit and insurance papers. They watch helplessly and without comprehension as hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. They are hostages to brands. Brands come with images and slogans. Images and slogans are all they understand. Many eat at fast food restaurants not only because it is cheap but because they can order from pictures rather than menus. And those who serve them, also semi-literate or illiterate, punch in orders on cash registers whose keys are marked with symbols and pictures. This is our brave new world. ...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Poll: Bush disapproval ratings reach new record (76%)

WASHINGTON (CNN) – As President-elect Obama visits the White House, a new national poll suggests that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most unpopular president in the six decades since presidential approval ratings were first measured.

Seventy-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday disapprove of how George W. Bush is handling his job as President. That's an all-time high in CNN polling, or in Gallup polling dating back to World War II.

"No other president's disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating."

Prior to President Bush, the record holder for presidential disapproval was Harry Truman, with a 67 percent disapproval rating in January of 1952, his last full year in office. /

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NYT: Obama and the War on Brains
Published: November 9, 2008

Barack Obama’s election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual. Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we’ve seen recently that the converse — a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance — doesn’t get very far either.

We can’t solve our educational challenges when, according to polls, Americans are approximately as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution, and when one-fifth of Americans believe that the sun orbits the Earth. Almost half of young Americans said in a 2006 poll that it was not necessary to know the locations of countries where important news was made. That must be a relief to Sarah Palin, who, according to Fox News, didn’t realize that Africa was a continent rather than a country.

Perhaps John Kennedy was the last president who was unapologetic about his intellect and about luring the best minds to his cabinet. More recently, we’ve had some smart and well-educated presidents who scrambled to hide it. Richard Nixon was a self-loathing intellectual, and Bill Clinton camouflaged a fulgent brain behind folksy Arkansas aphorisms about hogs.

As for President Bush, he adopted anti-intellectualism as administration policy, repeatedly rejecting expertise (from Middle East experts, climate scientists and reproductive health specialists). Mr. Bush is smart in the sense of remembering facts and faces, yet I can’t think of anybody I’ve ever interviewed who appeared so uninterested in ideas.

At least since Adlai Stevenson’s campaigns for the presidency in the 1950s, it’s been a disadvantage in American politics to seem too learned....

Yet times may be changing. How else do we explain the election in 2008 of an Ivy League-educated law professor who has favorite philosophers and poets?...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Desperate Right's Five Biggest Flops of the 2008 Election

By Brad Reed, AlterNet
Posted on November 8, 2008, Printed on November 8, 2008

After every election cycle, our national press corps likes to point out the so-called game-changing moments during the campaign that supposedly shifted momentum decisively toward one candidate. Classic examples include Gerald Ford freeing Poland, Ronald Reagan telling Jimmy Carter that he went again, Michael Dukakis appearing in a tank, Bush I looking at his watch, Al Gore sighing and John Kerry windsurfing. At their heart, these moments are superficial explanations for very complex processes and phenomena, which is the biggest reason why the media love to discuss them. After all, it beats talking about policy.

Over the past two decades, the Right has excelled at manipulating the media's love of shallow, scripted storylines to transform our national discourse into one long psychodrama in which Democratic candidates inevitably make some tragic gaffe that shows voters how truly out of touch they are with the Real Americans living in the heartland. These moments are usually dramatized by illustrations of blaring sirens on the Drudge Report accompanied by bold, red-lettered headlines that say things like, "SHOCK VIDEO: Kerry orders Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak." Our press corps then dutifully reports on how Kerry's disdain for traditional Cheez Wiz shows why Democrats are having trouble connecting with blue-collar voters who suspect that Democrats are all secretly Jesus-hating communists.

This election, however, none of the GOP's scripted game-changing moments were able to derail the Obama campaign. Indeed, it could be argued that many of the non-game-changers (See: Palin, Sarah) actually worked in Obama's favor. Here, then, are the five most uneventful events that did not decisively help McCain win the election:

Non-Game Changer #5: A crazed Obama supporter did not carve a backward "B" into a McCain staffer's face.

At first, the Ashley Todd saga seemed like the perfect way to shift the election momentum back to McCain. Here, after all, was a young white woman who had been robbed and assaulted by a crazed black Obama supporter who went so far as to mutilate her face when he learned she was working for McCain. Matt Drudge blared Todd's "shock" story at the top of his home page and showed a picture of the poor young conservative with a black eye and a backward "B" carved into her face. Some of the dimmer right-wing bloggers such as Red State's Erick Erickson jumped all over the story and proclaimed that the media were to blame for Todd's alleged assault because they had "cooked up tales about Republican verbal violence" at McCain rallies. Obama also took his share of the blame because he had urged his supporters to get in opponents' faces and aggressively defend their positions and beliefs.

Todd's story, of course, was such obvious bullshit that even Michelle Malkin expressed skepticism about it. While this didn't stop the McCain campaign from actively pushing it to the media, it did ensure that the non-story had a nonexistent shelf life... /

Watching Them Squirm: Is Fox News Abandoning the Mob It Created?

By Mark Ames, AlterNet
Posted on November 7, 2008, Printed on November 8, 2008

The first polls had just closed when the Republican Right's "Agony of Defeat" moment arrived. It was just after 8 p.m. -- right as Fox's "America's Election HQ" show returned from a commercial break, and Brit Hume welcomed viewers back to his "Fair and Balanced" network.

But something wasn't right: There was a strange lack of background banter, none of the golf-buddy joshing that comes with overconfidence. There was just Bergman-esque silence between every one of Brit Hume's dramatic pauses. The Fox cameras wandered over an incredible scene: the cream of right-wing/neocon punditry -- William Kristol, Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke -- were caught slumped in their chairs during the commercial break, deep in a state of hopelessness and depression. They didn't see the camera train on them, or maybe they were incapable of faking it, as if they'd been on a three-day Ecstasy roll at Burning Man, and now they were paying the horrible serotonin-deprived price. Kristol looked like he was suffering the worst: He was slouched over the table, his grotesque Stewie-shaped head sulking down to his navel, his glazed eyes staring down at the floor. He strained to lift his head when Hume called on him to comment -- and when Kristol spoke, it was in a raspy, slow voice, not his usual smirking, energetic arrogance. To quote a sympathetic right-wing blogger, "Will Collier e-mails to tell me that he hasn't seen Bill Kristol look this bad since his man McCain get stomped in S.C. by Bush in 2000."

I started my Fox News Election Day Agony Watch at 6:30 a.m. I was expecting a lot of last-minute shrieking about voter fraud, ACORN and Barack Hussein Osama terrorist-mongering, the climax to a vicious campaign that Fox had been promoting over the previous month or two, but what was so strange that day was the relatively subdued, quasi-civil tone that Fox was taking. They pushed those buttons on Election Day, but only halfheartedly. You'd have to have watched a lot of Fox News -- which I have, out of morbid curiosity -- to detect the tonal shift on Nov. 4. It was as if they had decided to pull their punches. Before the polls opened, Ann Coulter appeared for a few minutes to riff against the liberals, but the 47-year-old MILF-wannabe looked oddly desperate in her mini-miniskirt and knee-high boots, as if she stole her imaginary teenage daughter's clubbing outfit and wanted to show it off. The effect was wrong, a desperate eccentricity, like a neocon Michael Jackson.

What was going on? It was as if the Fox News execs were nervous, so they came up with a Plan B approach. Gone was the usual mob-incitement chest-beating that has made Fox News such a hit in Middle America. It seems that the craftier vanguard of the Republican right-wing mob got together and decided that this was the craftiest position to adopt. Just before the elections, Kristol published a New York Times column that threw his entire 20-year divide-and-quagmire playbook out the window in favor of a new pseudo-gracious "hey, we're all friends, liberals and conservatives, and isn't it a wonderful country we live in?" mantra... /

Read the rest. It's great. It talks about the nest ninnies at Free Republic. Pure stupidity combined with insanity. Tasty.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What's next Grand Old Party: It's hard not to look at the map -- particularly in the House -- and not view the GOP as a regional party right now. If it weren’t for the party's relative strength in the South, the party would be in even worse shape...

Tidbits from Newsweek & the NYT:

"NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books."

Internal Battles Divided McCain and Palin Camps


...The disputes between the campaigns centered in large part on the Republican National Committee’s $150,000 wardrobe for Ms. Palin and her family, but also on what McCain advisers considered Ms. Palin’s lack of preparation for her disastrous interview with Katie Couric of CBS News and her refusal to take advice from Mr. McCain’s campaign.

But behind those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Ms. Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008.

As late as Tuesday night, a McCain adviser said, Ms. Palin was pushing to deliver her own speech just before Mr. McCain’s concession speech, even though vice-presidential nominees do not traditionally speak on election night. But Ms. Palin met up with Mr. McCain with text in hand. She was told no by Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, and Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s top strategist.

On Wednesday, two top McCain campaign advisers said that the clothing purchases for Ms. Palin and her family were a particular source of outrage for them. As they portrayed it, Ms. Palin had been advised by Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain aide, that she should buy three new suits for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September and three additional suits for the fall campaign. The budget for the clothes was anticipated to be from $20,000 to $25,000, the officials said.

Instead, in a public relations debacle undermining Ms. Palin’s image as an everywoman “hockey mom,” bills came in to the Republican National Committee for about $150,000, including charges of $75,062 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425 at Saks Fifth Avenue. The bills included clothing for Ms. Palin’s family and purchases of shoes, luggage and jewelry, the advisers said.

The advisers described the McCain campaign as incredulous about the shopping spree and said Republican National Committee lawyers were likely to go to Alaska to conduct an inventory and try to account for all that was spent...


Advisers in the McCain campaign, in suggesting that Palin advisers had been leaking damaging information about the McCain campaign to the news media, said they were particularly suspicious of Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s top foreign policy aide who had a central role in preparing Ms. Palin for the vice-presidential debate.

As a result, two senior members of the McCain campaign said on Wednesday that Mr. Scheunemann had been fired from the campaign in its final days. But Rick Davis, the McCain campaign manager, and Mr. Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, said Wednesday that Mr. Scheunemann had in fact not been dismissed. Mr. Scheunemann, who picked up the phone in his office at McCain campaign headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, responded that “anybody who says I was fired is either lying or delusional or a whack job.”

Mr. Scheunemann was referring to widely disseminated criticism by Mr. McCain’s advisers in the final days of the campaign that Ms. Palin, as first reported in Politico, was a “whack job.”

Whatever the permutations, the advisers said they strongly believed that Mr. Scheunemann was disclosing, as one put it, “a constant stream of poison” to William Kristol, the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and a columnist for The New York Times.

Mr. Kristol, who wrote a column on Oct. 13 calling on Mr. McCain to fire his campaign because it was “close to being out-and-out dysfunctional,” said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that the campaign advisers were paranoid. Mr. Kristol has been a strong supporter of Ms. Palin.

“I wasn’t writing poison,” Mr. Kristol said. He added: “Randy Scheunemann is a friend of mine and I think he did a good job. I talked to him, but I talked to a lot of people at the campaign.”...

So, neocon weasel Scheunemann was fired last week (!) for being a neocon/PNAC spy. Our ace media was on that one, huh?

The Israel-firsters wanted to save a few bucks on Sarah's 2012 campaignin' clothes. Who knew?

I admit it...more than Obama's victory I enjoy the right wing's defeat more.

If I wanted to rebuild the GOP I'd do everything I could to jettison the neocons.

But then they'll just try to reattach themselves to the establishment Dems. That's where they came from. The 'Scoop Jackson/Senator from Boeing' wing of the Dem faction of the War Party. There's really only one political party in this country; The War Party.

Now that this pesky presidential election is out of the way the real fight can begin. The fight between decency and the Military-Industrial-Media Complex. The fight between people who are citizens of the US and people who are citizens of the US/Israel/the multinational war machine and who knows what or where else.

The two-party dog and pony show is a distraction from the real fight. Very few people seem to get that. And believe me, the mainstream media isn't going to inform on itself.

GE doesn't even make appliances anymore. They make weapons systems and broadcast the 'news'. Yeah, right, the 'news'. The 'news' that isn't true because too much is left out.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fox’s Carl Cameron: Palin ‘didn’t understand that Africa was a continent.’»

Today, Fox News’ campaign reporter Carl Cameron unloaded some startling undisclosed reports of Sarah Palin’s incompetence that he had been given off-the-record on the condition they not be released until the conclusion of the campaign:

CAMERON: There was great concern in the McCain campaign that Sarah Palin lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency.

We are told by folks that she didn’t know what countries were in NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement. That’d be Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. We’re told that she didn’t understand that Africa was a continent, rather than a series — a country just in itself. A whole host of questions that caused serious problems about her knowledgeability.

Cameron also disclosed that Palin “didn’t accept preparation” for the Katie Couric interview. Watch it: /


Do you realize what we dodged yesterday? At least for now.

The neocon/Israel-first cabal will hold on to Sarah, though. She's a better front-stooge than the 'chimperor' himself. Bush with boobs.

Here's the assignment: keep an eye on these people. Some are still out-front like Kristol, Max Boot, the Kagan boys but some have already run to ground. Almost disappeared. Very, very dangerous people.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The End of Rove's Dream
By Dan Froomkin
Special to

Tuesday, November 4, 2008; 12:43 PM

Karl Rove's dream was that George W. Bush's presidency would usher in a permanent Republican majority. But as with so many of the Bush White House's big ideas, things didn't exactly go according to plan. We'll know for sure by tomorrow, but it looks more and more like the end result of eight years of Bush has been the discrediting of his party and the loss of its commanding position in American politics.

Turning the executive branch into a political arm of the Republican Party, stoking fear and division amid the electorate, trashing opponents without mercy, and casting national security as a wedge issue -- all these tactics had short-term benefits, and indeed won Bush a second term. But ultimately, they seem to have lost America.

As John Harwood wrote in the New York Times last week: "In 2004, after President Bush won re-election with expanded Republican majorities in Congress, academics, journalists and party strategists wondered whether his blend of free-market economics, cultural conservatism and hawkishness on national security might create long-lasting Republican rule.

"'Something fundamental and significant happened,' said Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee. On the eve of a second Bush term, he said, the Republican Party was 'in a stronger position than at any time since the Great Depression.'

"Today that Republican dream appears in shambles. The twin burdens of an economic crisis and an unpopular war have left Mr. Bush with, at 71 percent, the highest level of public disapproval for a president in the history of the Gallup Poll. Democrats see the chance on Nov. 4 to elect not just Senator Barack Obama but also House and Senate majorities large enough to enact his ambitious agenda."

Sidney Blumenthal writes in a Guardian opinion piece: "Today's election is poised to end the Republican era in American politics - an era that began in reaction to Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, the Vietnam war and the civil rights revolution, was pioneered by Richard Nixon, consolidated by Ronald Reagan, and wrecked by George W Bush.

"Almost every aspect of the Republican ascendancy has been discredited and lies in tatters - its policies, politics, and even its version of patriotism. . . .

"Now, certain factors that have dominated US politics for 40 years seem destined to recede to the far corners. In economics, supply-side panaceas and deregulation created the worst crisis since the Great Depression, requiring a conservative Republican administration to part-nationalise banks, something unimaginable under any Democratic administration. In foreign policy, neoconservatism led to the morass in Iraq and Afghanistan while undermining the western alliance. In social policy, the evangelical right battered science, the separation of church and state, and the right to privacy. Finally, the conservative principle of limited government has become a watchword for incompetence, cronyism, corruption, hypocrisy, and contempt for the rule of law."...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Nowhere Man

A Farewell to Dubya, All-Time Loser in Presidential History

By Simon Schama

November 3, 2008
The Guardian

"Forgotten but not gone" was the way in which the supremo of Boston politics, Billy Bulger, liked to dismiss the human irritants he had crushed beneath his trim boot. The same could now be said for the hapless 43rd President of the United States as the daylight draws mercifully in on his reign of misfortune and calamity. How is he bearing up, one wonders, as the candidate from his own party treats him as the carrier of some sort of infectious political disease? How telling was it that the most impassioned moment in John McCain's performance in the final debate was when he declared: "I am not George Bush."

Where, O where are you, Dubya, as the action passes you by like a jet skirting dirty weather? Are you roaming the lonely corridors of the White House in search of a friendly shoulder around which to clap your affable arm? Are you sweating it out on the treadmill, hurt and confused as to why the man everyone wanted to have a beer (or Coke) with, who swept to re-election four years ago, has been downgraded to all-time loser in presidential history, stuck there in the bush leagues along with the likes of James Buchanan and Warren Harding? Or are you whacking brush in Crawford, where the locals now make a point of telling visitors that George W never really was from hereabouts anyroad.

Whatever else his legacy, the man who called himself "the decider" has left some gripping history. The last eight years have been so rich in epic imperial hubris that it would take a reborn Gibbon to do justice to the fall. It should be said right away that amid the landscape of smoking craters there are one or two sprigs of decency that have been planted: record amounts of financial help given to Aids-blighted countries of Africa; immigration reform that would have offered an amnesty to illegals and given them a secure path to citizenship, had not those efforts hit the reef of intransigence in Bush's own party. And no one can argue with the fact that since 9/11 the United States has not been attacked on its home territory by jihadi terrorists; though whether or not that security is more illusory than real is, to put it mildly, open to debate.

Bet against that there is the matter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties, more than 4,000 American troops dead, many times that gravely injured, not to mention the puncture wounds and mutilations inflicted on internationally agreed standards of humane conduct for prisoners - and on the protection of domestic liberties enshrined in the American constitution. If the Statue of Liberty were alive, she would be weeping tears of blood.

If Bush himself has been largely kept out of sight, his baleful legacy has been visible in the McCain campaign. McCain has made much of his credentials for independence of mind, a claim which once was credible given his support for immigration reform and opposition to Bush's tax cuts. But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, all of this became less important than the lessons of the Reagan-Bush-Rove political playbook which, with the exception of the Clinton election of 1992, seemed to have a track record of unbroken success.

McCain knew this from bitter personal experience, having been on the receiving end of Bush lowball politics in the South Carolina primary in 2000. Coming out of a convincing win against George Bush in New Hampshire he was stopped in his tracks by a smear campaign conducted through push-poll phone calls in which people were asked whether they knew that the daughter McCain had adopted from Sri Lanka was in fact the illegitimate child of an affair with a woman of colour. Now you would think McCain could never reconcile himself to a politician capable of those kinds of tactics. But there he was in the campaign of 2004, stumping the country for the incumbent, ingratiating himself with the conservative base he knew he would need, even as his old Vietnam buddy, John Kerry, was being coated in slime by the Swift Boaters...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

AND so: just how far have we come?

As a rough gauge last week, I watched a movie I hadn’t seen since it came out when I was a teenager in 1967. Back then “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was Hollywood’s idea of a stirring call for racial justice. The premise: A young white woman falls madly in love with a black man while visiting the University of Hawaii and brings him home to San Francisco to get her parents’ blessing. Dad, a crusading newspaper publisher, and Mom, a modern art dealer, are wealthy white liberals — Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, no less — so surely there can be no problem. Complications ensue before everyone does the right thing.

Though the film was a box-office smash and received 10 Oscar nominations, even four decades ago it was widely ridiculed as dated by liberal critics. The hero, played by the first black Hollywood superstar, Sidney Poitier, was seen as too perfect and too “white” — an impossibly handsome doctor with Johns Hopkins and Yale on his résumé and a Nobel-worthy career fighting tropical diseases in Africa for the World Health Organization. What couple would not want him as a son-in-law? “He’s so calm and sure of everything,” says his fiancée. “He doesn’t have any tensions in him.” She is confident that every single one of their biracial children will grow up to “be president of the United States and they’ll all have colorful administrations.”

What a strange movie to confront in 2008. As the world knows, Barack Obama’s own white mother and African father met at the University of Hawaii. In “Dreams From My Father,” he even imagines the awkward dinner where his mother introduced her liberal-ish parents to her intended in 1959. But what’s most startling about this archaic film is the sole element in it that proves inadvertently contemporary. Faced with a black man in the mold of the Poitier character — one who appears “so calm” and without “tensions” — white liberals can make utter fools of themselves. When Joe Biden spoke of Obama being “clean” and “articulate,” he might have been recycling Spencer Tracy’s lines of 41 years ago.

Biden’s gaffe, though particularly naked, prefigured a larger pattern in the extraordinary election campaign that has brought an African-American to the brink of the presidency. Our political and news media establishments — fixated for months on tracking down every unreconstructed bigot in blue-collar America — have their own conspicuous racial myopia, with its own set of stereotypes and clichés. They consistently underestimated Obama’s candidacy because they often saw him as a stand-in for the two-dimensional character Poitier had to shoulder in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” It’s why so many got this election wrong so often.

There were countless ruminations, in print and on television, asking the same two rhetorical questions: “Is He Black Enough?” and “Is He Tough Enough?” The implied answer to both was usually, “No.” The brown-skinned child of biracial parents wasn’t really “black” and wouldn’t appeal to black voters who were overwhelmingly loyal to the wife of America’s first “black” president. And as a former constitutional law professor, Obama was undoubtedly too lofty an intellectual to be a political street fighter, too much of a wuss to land a punch in a debate, too ethereal to connect to “real” Americans. He was Adlai Stevenson, Michael Dukakis or Bill Bradley in dark face — no populist pugilist like John Edwards.

The list of mistaken prognostications that grew from these flawed premises is long. As primary season began, we were repeatedly told that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was the most battle-tested and disciplined, with an invincible organization and an unbeatable donors’ network. Poor Obama had to settle for the ineffectual passion of the starry-eyed, Internet-fixated college kids who failed to elect Howard Dean in 2004. When Clinton lost in Iowa, no matter; Obama could never breach the “firewalls” that would wrap up her nomination by Super Tuesday. Neither the Clinton campaign nor the many who bought its spin noticed the take-no-prisoners political insurgency that Obama had built throughout the caucus states and that serves him to this day.

Once Obama wrested the nomination from Clinton by surpassing her in organization, cash and black votes, he was still often seen as too wimpy to take on the Republicans. This prognosis was codified by Karl Rove, whose punditry for The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek has been second only to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as a reliable source of laughs this year. Rove called Obama “lazy,” and over the summer he predicted that his fund-raising had peaked in February and that he’d have a “serious problem” winning over Hispanics. Well, Obama was lazy like a fox, and is leading John McCain among Hispanics by 2 to 1. Obama has also pulled ahead among white women despite the widespread predictions that he’d never bring furious Hillary supporters into the fold.

But certainly the single most revelatory moment of the campaign — about the political establishment, not Obama — arrived in June when he reversed his position on taking public financing. This was a huge flip-flop (if no bigger than McCain’s on the Bush tax cuts). But the reaction was priceless. Suddenly the political world discovered that far from being some exotic hothouse flower, Obama was a pol from Chicago. Up until then it rarely occurred to anyone that he had to be a ruthless competitor, not merely a sweet-talking orator, to reach the top of a political machine even rougher than the Clinton machine he had brought down. Whether that makes him more black or more white remains unresolved.

Early in the campaign, the black commentator Tavis Smiley took a lot of heat when he questioned all the rhetoric, much of it from white liberals, about Obama being “post-racial.” Smiley pointed out that there is “no such thing in America as race transcendence.” He is right of course. America can no sooner disown its racial legacy, starting with the original sin of slavery, than it can disown its flag; it’s built into our DNA. Obama acknowledged as much in his landmark speech on race in Philadelphia in March.

Yet much has changed for the better since the era of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” thanks to the epic battles of the civil-rights movement that have made the Obama phenomenon possible. As Mark Harris reminds us in his recent book about late 1960s Hollywood, “Pictures at a Revolution,” it was not until the year of the movie’s release that the Warren Court handed down the Loving decision overturning laws that forbade interracial marriage in 16 states; in the film’s final cut there’s still an outdated line referring to the possibility that the young couple’s nuptials could be illegal (as Obama’s parents’ marriage would have been in, say, Virginia). In that same year of 1967, L.B.J.’s secretary of state, Dean Rusk, offered his resignation when his daughter, a Stanford student, announced her engagement to a black Georgetown grad working at NASA. (Johnson didn’t accept it.)

Obama’s message and genealogy alike embody what has changed in the decades since. When he speaks of red and blue America being seamlessly woven into the United States of America, it is always shorthand for the reconciliation of black and white and brown and yellow America as well. Demographically, that’s where America is heading in the new century, and that will be its destiny no matter who wins the election this year.

Still, the country isn’t there yet, and should Obama be elected, America will not be cleansed of its racial history or conflicts. It will still have a virtually all-white party as one of its two most powerful political organizations. There will still be white liberals who look at Obama and can’t quite figure out what to make of his complex mixture of idealism and hard-knuckled political cunning, of his twin identities of international sojourner and conventional middle-class overachiever.

After some 20 months, we’re all still getting used to Obama and still, for that matter, trying to read his sometimes ambiguous takes on both economic and foreign affairs. What we have learned definitively about him so far — and what may most account for his victory, should he achieve it — is that he had both the brains and the muscle to outsmart, outmaneuver and outlast some of the smartest people in the country, starting with the Clintons. We know that he ran a brilliant campaign that remained sane and kept to its initial plan even when his Republican opponent and his own allies were panicking all around him. We know that that plan was based on the premise that Americans actually are sick of the divisive wedge issues that have defined the past couple of decades, of which race is the most divisive of all.

Obama doesn’t transcend race. He isn’t post-race. He is the latest chapter in the ever-unfurling American racial saga. It is an astonishing chapter. For most Americans, it seems as if Obama first came to dinner only yesterday. Should he win the White House on Tuesday, many will cheer and more than a few will cry as history moves inexorably forward.

But we are a people as practical as we are dreamy. We’ll soon remember that the country is in a deep ditch, and that we turned to the black guy not only because we hoped he would lift us up but because he looked like the strongest leader to dig us out.