Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In a very real sense it's the epitome of Rovian cynicism, The Politics Of Against that I was talking about earlier. The Politics Of Against is just what it says: Politics is reduced to reasons to vote against the other guy. That mindset permeates every level of the GOP operation, that you must not vote for a candidate, but against one. You can't vote for the Democrat, because (insert reason here). It doesn't matter if the reason is true or not. It's much easier to convince a person to vote against the other candidate in ignorance than it is to vote for you out of reason. The last eight years are proof of that.
This is a basic truth of humanity. We're social animals. We want to belong to our group and instinctively reject and ostracize those who are not like us. It's much easier for us to be told what to do and how to think than to risk rejection by the group by going our own way. Karl Rove and his crew at the GOP have mastered this principle. George W. Bush wasn't a candidate FOR anything other than George W. Bush. But Karl Rove turned his political opponents into people to vote Against, and he won.
Now in 2008 we see the same principle at work in the McSame camp. John McSame doesn't stand FOR anything other than the continuation of George W. Bush's administration in nearly every facet. In many ways he's far worse. But his main weapon is nothing more than a litany of reasons to vote Against Obama.
What's making this so effective is that the sad truth is there are people out there who are uncomfortable with an African-American as President of the United States of America. It pains me to say it, as like Obama I am a mixed-race individial with a white mother and a black father I never knew. As a baby, I was adopted by a happily married white couple (still married after 36 years this month, thank you) and grew up in a small town in North Carolina.
I know how Barack Obama feels. He is me, to an extent. I know that while I was treated kindly and fairly by many people, by others I was most certainly not. People make assumptions based on appearance, and those assumptions can be very powerful...sometimes too powerful to overcome. It's not just race, it's gender, religion, accent, everything.
For the last eight years Karl Rove's shop has been pushing this as gospel, to the point where people voted in George W. Bush twice. Obama as an opponent must fill him with glee, because he knows that all he has to do to win and get John McSame into the White House is to absolve enough Americans of the sin of racism.
All he has to do is throw enough acceptable falsehoods and prejudices at the voters and let them grab onto one like a life preserver so that they don't have to vote for Obama. Many of them will be convinced to vote against their own self-interest yet again for a variety of reasons other than bald-faced racism: Obama's secretly a Muslim, he's not a US citizen, his wife is militant, he'll raise taxes on the middle-class, he's guilty of misogyny against Hillary, the list goes on.
The Rovian formula is to take a Democrat's most obvious visual trait and turn it against them. In Obama's case, it's the color of his skin. But of course Rove can't say that, so it becomes a contest of sorts to manufacture any reason to substitute for it. You can't vote against Obama because he's black, but if he's a Muslim, or can't bowl, or eats arugula, or beat Hillary, that's okay.
Karl Rove is trying to absolve you of your sin. "It's okay to vote against the black guy. Here are reasons you can use. Just pick one, it'll be fine." For my co-workers, it ranges from "He's going to raise taxes and take my guns" to "Wasn't he raised a Muslim though?"
The funny thing is when asked for a reason to vote FOR John McCain, they give me blank stares and uncomfortable silence. They don't like McCain, they say, he's just like Bush. But they don't like Obama either. They honestly don't believe he'll be any better, because of The Politics Of Against.
There's been a lot of talk about the Bradley Effect, that when it comes to Election Day, 5-10% of Obama's votes will vanish as people not wanting to be seen as racist tell pollsters they are voting for Obama and then switch to McSame in the privacy of the voting booth. With the race as close as it is, that could easily spell victory for the GOP once again. Rove is counting on the Politics of Against to make that as easy as possible for people. Will there be people who do this? Certainly.
How do you honestly reach people like these when they are so firmly set in Against mode? That's the question Obama has to figure out.
And he has less than eleven weeks to do it in.
I don't have the answers. I wish I did. All I can say is I believe in Obama's message of change and hope, and I'm voting for him. In the end the only vote I can truly influence is my own. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't voting for him partially because his story is like mine. But I'm voting for him because of what he says he will do if elected.
As I write this, Obama has been officially nominated as the Dems' candidate. I am grateful and happy.
It's time to be for something, not against.
What was missing was much in the way of description of Barack Obama. What kind of man is he? One who supports the same positions she does. Has she looked deep into his heart and found something worthy? No evidence here that she had. Would he be a good commander-in-chief? Not a word on that, as the McCain campaign quickly and gleefully noted.Yeah, I know, it's more Village stupidity. These guys are 90% of the problem and have a vested interest in seeing the Dems fighting over inane shit.
Clinton can tell Obamaites that she made the case for Obama and brought the convention cheering to its feet. She can say that she told her supporters in the most explicit language possible to work hard for his election. She can make this claim whether he wins or (the more tantalizing case) he loses. In the latter case, she's made a good start on her own 2012 campaign. She'll be only 64 that year, the same age as George H. W. Bush when he was elected in 1988.
I ran into an Obama adviser leaving the hall. His take? "She did well." The speech "played a role." Pretty chilly, chillier than Clinton's affect. These people still don't like each other.
But the other 10% of the problem are the Clintons. And it doesn't mean the Village can't be right once in a blue moon: These people still don't like each other.
Not all the Dems are corrupt as the Beltway types inside this party. But too many of them are. It's the way Washington has worked for decades, and getting it to truly change means putting an end to things like this.
Armed with full-scale Convention press credentials issued by the DNC, I went -- along with Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher, John Amato, Stoller and others -- in order to cover the event, interview the attendees, and videotape the festivities. There was a wall of private security deployed around the building, and after asking where the press entrance was, we were told by the security officials, after they consulted with event organizers, that the press was barred from the event, and that only those with invitations could enter -- notwithstanding the fact that what was taking place in side was a meeting between one of the nation's largest corporations and the numerous members of the most influential elected faction in Congress. As a result, we stood in front of the entrance and began videotaping and trying to interview the parade of Blue Dog Representatives, AT&T executives, assorted lobbyists and delegates who pulled up in rented limousines, chauffeured cars, and SUVs in order to find out who was attending and why AT&T would be throwing such a lavish party for the Blue Dog members of Congress.
Amazingly, not a single one of the 25-30 people we tried to interview would speak to us about who they were, how they got invited, what the party's purpose was, why they were attending, etc. One attendee said he was with an "energy company," and the other confessed she was affiliated with a "trade association," but that was the full extent of their willingness to describe themselves or this event. It was as though they knew they're part of a filthy and deeply corrupt process and were ashamed of -- or at least eager to conceal -- their involvement in it. After just a few minutes, the private security teams demanded that we leave, and when we refused and continued to stand in front trying to interview the reticent attendees, the Denver Police forced us to move further and further away until finally we were unable to approach any more of the arriving guests.
It was really the perfect symbol for how the Beltway political system functions -- those who dictate the nation's laws (the largest corporations and their lobbyists) cavorting in total secrecy with those who are elected to write those laws (members of Congress), while completely prohibiting the public from having any access to and knowledge of -- let alone involvement in -- what they are doing. And all of this was arranged by the corporation -- AT&T -- that is paying for a substantial part of the Democratic National Convention with millions upon millions of dollars, which just received an extraordinary gift of retroactive amnesty from the Congress controlled by that party, whose logo is splattered throughout the city wherever the DNC logo appears -- virtually attached to it -- all taking place next to the stadium where the Democratic presidential nominee, claiming he will cleanse the Beltway of corporate and lobbying influences, will accept the nomination on Thursday night.No matter which party is in charge, the corporations run everything. It's usually worse with the Republicans...but there are enough Democrats in Washington that if they banded together they could put a serious dent in this. They choose not to.
Changing a system like this requires a lot of work. But it's work that absolutely has to be started now with an Obama administration. A McSame administration will do nothing about these abuses. I don't have a lot of hope Obama will be able to do much of anything. But I am iron-clad sure that McSame will actively avoid cleaning up anything. He'll have all new wars to fight over megacorporate resources and record profits.
I know there's a slender thread of hope between what McSame will do and what Obama might try to do...after all nobody gets to this level in politics without being beholden to these same corporations, the ExxonMobils, Wal-Marts, and AT&Ts of the world, but I gotta believe a small chance is better than a known assurance it will continue for four more years.
So I vote for Obama in Kentucky. You don't get much more long shot than that.
Avoiding a potential confrontation with Moscow, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter ferrying humanitarian aid to Georgia steered away from the Russian-patrolled port of Poti on Wednesday and docked in this quieter southern harbor instead.To be fair, somebody probably would have noticed a USN destroyer hanging about in the Caspian Sea, so of course the ship not going to Poti makes news. Hard to fake that.
The U.S. decision came as Russia sent a naval task force armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles into the waters off of Abkhazia on Wednesday on a "peace and stability" mission, the Russian Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The U.S. had intended to send the Coast Guard cutter Dallas to Poti, along with a U.S. destroyer, USS McFaul as its escort. Poti is Georgia's main commercial port on the Black Sea, and it is still under Georgian control, but Russian forces continue to man two checkpoints around the town, which lies 15 miles south of the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia.
Russian troops now occupy Abhkazia, whose independence President Dmitry Medvedev recognized a day earlier.
In preparation for the arrival of the Dallas, the U.S. Embassy's disaster assistance team was preparing to dispatch trucks to Poti to receive the cargo.
But late Tuesday night U.S. military officials decided to send the Dallas to Batumi, 50 miles to the south, where the McFaul anchored on Sunday with a small cargo of aid.
A U.S. official in Georgia said that the decision was made "at the highest levels of the Pentagon" but would not elaborate. The official requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.
On the other hand, we certainly seem scared of the Russians. Couldn't be because of the Moskit anti-ship missiles the Russians have, hmm? Oh, and supposedly the Russians have sold the Moskit to the Iranians too.
As I keep saying, we've got no cards to play in Georgia. Not a single one. We're on the sidelines unless we declare war. Think about McSame in the White House, think about the decision to NOT confront the Russians here, and think about what McSame would do in the same situation.
Imagine 2009-2013 as 2001-2005 all over again. Only worse. Not only will we be at war with Iran, but probably with Russia, while still being at war with Iraq and Afghanistan. With McSame it is going to be war, war, war, war, war. The number one job of the O-biden Campaign is to differentiate themselves on this issue. McSame means more war.
Reprinting an Andrew Sullivan post in its entirety ...The op-ed in today's WSJ by the McCain duo of Lieberman and Graham is far more important for this election, it seems to me, than parsing the dynamics of the Clinton-Obama marriage. What they are laying out in very clear terms is the agenda of a McCain presidency. The agenda is war and the threat of war - including what would be an end to cooperation with Russia on securing loose nuclear materials and sharing terror intelligence, in favor of a new cold war in defense of ... Moldova and Azerbaijan. I'm sure McCain would like to have his Russian cooperation, while demonizing and attacking them on the world stage, but in the actual world, he cannot. Putin and Medvedev are not agreeable figures, and I do not mean in any way to excuse their bullying. But this is global politics, guys, and these are the cold, hard choices facing American policy makers.
And in this telling op-ed Lieberman and Graham simply do not even confront them. It's all about a moral posture, with no practical grappling with the consequences. It's the mindset that gave you the Iraq war - but multiplied.
John McCain is making it quite clear what his foreign policy will be like: tilting sharply away from the greater realism of Bush's second term toward the abstract moralism, fear-mongering and aggression of the first. Not just four more years - but four more years like Bush's first term. If the Democrats cannot adequately warn Americans of the dangers of a hotheaded temperament and uber-neo-con mindset in the White House for another four years, they deserve to lose. If Americans decide they want a president who will be more aggressive and less diplomatic than the current one, then they should at least brace for the consequences - for their economy and their security.
In my view, the fear card has only one truly compelling target in this election: McCain.
He puts it very well. This danger has actually got me to thinking that should McCain win in November, the likely strong Democratic majorities in Congress will need to begin making a concerted effort to rein in the war powers of the president to keep the country safe between 2009 and 2013 -- far more than most of us might normally be comfortable with. I know that sounds hyperbolic. It's not. And people need to understand this. For better or worse, the reality of the danger for the security of the country that is posed by a McCain presidency is not coming through. So the Democratic Congress would likely be the only bulwark against the gambit of his advisors and his own instability. What McCain is pushing for is much more stark than most Democrats, let alone independents and moderate Republicans understand. Hopefully, we won't need to face these choices.
One can't cast one's eyes toward Iraq, or read of the still-struggling Gulf Coast, or greet another infuriating 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, or hear about a family who lost their home because of the catastrophic combination of a healthcare crisis and no health insurance, or a crumbling infrastructure, or American students falling behind their global peers, or American scientists falling behind theirs, or any one of dozens of issues that have Rove's grubby fingerprints and Bush's crummy signature all over them, and fail to think about the scheming that has changed our country and our lives, not for the better by almost any estimation.Yeah, that's something that needed to be said. Brad continues.
And the pot of shit behind it all has the temerity to suggest that Michelle Obama doesn't love her country—the proof of her insufficient affection being, evidently, that she hasn't endeavored for the past four decades to destroy it.
Fuck you, Rove. Fuck. You.
The real enemy is the GOP, folks. It's the Rovian mindset that everything is political, everyone is exploitable, every single operation of political calculus is based on how to win by making the other guy lose long term.
What’s been generally amazing to me about this convention is how much the talking heads focused on personality-based elements: “Have Barack and Hillary made up yet? Is Michelle Obama a scary, angry black woman, or is she a phony pretending not to be a scary, angry black woman? What do the Democrats have to do to prove that they don’t hate America?”
Absolutely nothing about policy, absolutely nothing about the disaster that the past eight years of right-wing rule have wrought upon the country and the world. It’s all one big soap opera for these assholes, and as long as they’re entertained, Rome can burn.
With Katrina's third anniversary coming up, it's important to realize that there is no greater example of the Rovian mindset then what was allowed to happen to New Orleans. It was done to turn Louisiana into a red state permanently by destroying a major urban center of Democratic voters. Nothing more. Nothing less. It was a long-term plan to completely rework the state into the core of the GOP Southern regional party, as well as allowing for unprecedented graft and patronage in a state already famous for it.
Neo New Orleans is 2/3rds the size of before, and a lot of the missing third are affluent African-Americans who could leave, and poor ones who were forced out when rents doubled and tripled. These are the folks still in FEMA trailers, thousands of them. The gaming industry has taken over the state. In three years the state has gone from blue to red, with Sen. Mary Landrieu the last holdout. Gov. Bobby Jindal is the poster boy for the new plastic Neo New Orleans, a "safe, non-threatening minority" with a charming smile and all the compassion of a bayou gator, one of the Chamber of Commerce boys that is proud of making money on the backs of those who can least afford it. Displace the poor in every way, make way for the top 1% who should have the ability to run the country by divine right, with the President's right to ultimate power the most divine of all.
Given four more years of Bush as McSame, other American cities will end up just like Neo New Orleans. When you ask yourself who hates America, ask yourself who has damaged this country in every concievable way. Yes, at times the Democrats have assisted the GOP out of fear and self-interest. But look at pictures of the Lower Ninth Ward today, three years later, and tell me which side hates America.
Baghdad was rebuilt faster. Fuck Karl Rove.
On Aug. 14, U.S. Rep. Patrick T. McHenry held one of his annual town hall meetings here in Burke County. I attended this event, hoping to come away with a basic idea of his goals and accomplishments for the 10th Congressional District. Without a doubt, Rep. McHenry's town hall meeting was an eye-opening experience for me.Folks, if even the Morganton paper is taking Patty Boy apart over this, he's in trouble. If there is any district in the country that needs a serious rescue from a mindless GOP automaton, it's NC-10. Luckily we've got a contender this year in Democrat Daniel Johnson, a brilliant young Navy veteran who lost both his legs in an accident saving a fellow crewman's life. He's done work for Max Cleland and he's a strong example of the new breed of Democrats we're going to need to make some serious changes in Washington, here's his ActBlue page.
The meeting focussed on America's energy crisis and McHenry's "solutions."
He began with alternative renewable energy – points I strongly agreed with until things took a turn for the worse. He began talking about the marvels of oil shale (a highly polluting and uneconomical idea) and nuclear energy and a host of other "solutions" for the short term.
Unfortunately, in no way are these viable solutions to the problems we face today.
Nuclear energy, I think, could be a great source of energy, but there are great risks involved. As I pointed out at the town hall meeting, had the 9/11 hijackers directed one jet into the nuclear energy center 24 miles north of New York City, massive amounts of nuclear waste would have been unleashed. The results would have catastrophic, resulting in thousands of immediate deaths and many more in future generations.
When I pointed this out to our representative, he said protections are in place to prevent this and that I was "not factually correct" about this issue. He seems to have forgotten that it is not just the nuclear reactor that must be protected, but also the dry-cask storage facilities and the spent-fuel pools. Many experts know the security measures around these storage areas can be foiled, which is why many congressmen came together in the wake of 9/11 to join in increasing security measures for such nuclear sites.
It's a tough road. This is a district that has never elected a Democrat. Cass Ballenger ran the place for years before The Odious Patrick McHenry. But now's a perfect time to start.
The United States asked Iraq for permission to maintain a troop presence there to 2015, but U.S. and Iraqi negotiators agreed to limit their authorization to 2011, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said.The Bushies were planning to tie Obama's hands for both terms, apparently. I'm sure another 7 years of bombing the crap out of Iraqi citizens would have made them like us more eventually.
"It was a U.S. proposal for the date which is 2015, and an Iraqi one which is 2010, then we agreed to make it 2011. Iraq has the right, if necessary, to extend the presence of these troops," Talabani said in an interview with al-Hurra television, a transcript of which was posted on his party's website on Wednesday.
U.S. officials in Baghdad were not immediately available for comment.
If McSame is President, we'll still be in Iraq in January 2013. The situation on the ground will dictate that we still have a "duty to secure Iraq", you can bet that clause will be in there. If Obama's in the White House, they'll hopefully be home in time to vote in 2012.
Three U.S. soldiers killed four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots on the bank of a Baghdad canal last year, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.But the neocons wonder why the Iraqis are ungrateful and want us to get the hell out.
Sergeant First Class Joseph P. Mayo, the platoon sergeant, and Sergeant Michael P. Leahy Jr., Company D's senior medic and an acting squad leader, made sworn statements in January to Army investigators in Schweinfurt, Germany probing the incident, the newspaper reported on its website.
The men each described killing one of the Iraqi detainees, as directed by First Sergeant John E. Hatley, according to the statements. Hatley shot two other detainees with a pistol in the back of the head, Mayo and Leahy told investigators, according to the NYT.
U.S. soldiers cannot harm enemy combatants once they are disarmed and in custody, the NYT said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Army in Europe declined to comment, saying he could not speculate on any future legal action.
Bill Clinton on the other hand is not restrained by that. He knows he's the only two-term Democrat President still around, and that gives him a hell of a castle wall to perch upon and direct the slings and arrows at whoever he damn well wants to. He's been Hillary's pit bull since the spring and he's taken some pretty brutal shots. I'm honestly not convinced that he's going to play nice at all. Nobody's making him do so, not even Hillary can control the guy.
Now, he won't come out and attack Obama directly. But I seriously doubt he's going to praise the man either. He's hurt because Obama's camp has portrayed him as a racist, and the Big Dog is all butthurt at that. Too bad. Bill Clinton knew at every step of Hillary's campaign what he was doing and what he was saying. He knows the reality of Plan 2012 and what's coming down the pike for the next four years economically and socially in this country.
Bill Clinton is not a stupid man, especially when it comes to knowing how relationships work. He's acting like a spoiled child because it's politically convenient for him to do so, he can make a mess and still get away with it...he's Bill Clinton. Ain't nobody gonna call him out.
Except the Obama camp did. That wasn't part of the plan. Obama was supposed to step aside and have the Big Dog have another shot at the White House.
Now he's got one final shot at assuring Hillary Plan 2012. It'll come at the cost of African-Americans, but he figures he has four years to mend fences...and we're not going to vote for a Republican after Katrina. It might even work, he figures. That Bill Clinton charm will work in the long run, right?
So, here I am after defending the guy back in the 90's, wondering just how hard he's going to try to screw Obama over tonight. I shouldn't be considering that, really. Bill Clinton should be giving an amazing speech and he should be behind Obama all the way. The reality is he's not, and he has nobody to blame but himself.
So either we're going to see Bill Clinton suck it up and do what he has to do, or we're going to see him blow a hole in the side of the S.S. O-biden and try to sink it. The fact that I don't know what he's going to do scares me a little. But it does NOT surprise me. Not anymore. Bill Clinton could come to bury Caesar and he is the one guy in the party who could get away with it...after all he's been getting away with it for a while now.
Will he emulate Ted Kennedy? That's the kind of passing the torch speech that the Big Dog needs to make, it was a beautiful, emotional speech that sealed Ted Kennedy's role as the real elder statesman of the party and voice of our traditional liberal values. Bill Clinton could do that, he's more than capable. I don't think he will.
If he gives the subtext that Hillary Plan 2012 is on tonight, Obama is in real trouble. If he gives the subtext that it's over and that he's accepted the fact it's over, and that Obama is the way to the future, Obama still has a real shot at winning.
But the fact that I don't know what he's going to do, and the fact that I'm finding myself questioning the guy is the real problem here.
We'll see what happens.
Russia on Tuesday formally recognized the independence of the two Georgian regions that its military now occupies, further inflaming relations with the U.S. in a standoff that recalls the Cold War.We're still right back in the same situation we were two weeks ago: there's not a damn thing we can do about it if Russia decides to take those provinces as satellites from Georgia. The Russians realized a while ago they have all the cards on this one, and they're playing everything they can.
The announcement by President Dmitry Medvedev, in disregard of repeated U.S. warnings, confirmed Russia's return to the world stage as a military power willing to use force to recapture former Soviet territories. It raises the prospect that the two breakaway areas, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, eventually will join the Russian Federation or operate as satellites.
"We're not afraid of anything, of the prospect of a Cold War," Medvedev told Russian television in an interview Tuesday. "Of course, we don't want that. In this situation everything depends on the stand of . . . the world community and our partners in the West."
Medvedev said that if Western powers are willing to work with Russia, the situation will "be calm.""But if they choose a confrontational scenario, we will be responsive," he said.
Honestly Condi, what are YOU going to do? Short of war there is nothing TO do. Negotiations have obviously failed, and making Georgia a NATO partner is risky in itself. We have no military play, no diplomacy play, no economic play here. Cut our losses. Then ask yourself why we can't win this fight, because what Russia is doing here is what we did to Iraq.
There was strong condemnation of Medvedev's announcement from Washington and several European capitals, and no sign that any nation of strategic significance will follow Russia's lead.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the Kremlin's decision "extremely unfortunate."
"Abkhazia and South Ossetia are a part of the internationally recognized borders of Georgia and it's going to remain so," Rice said.
President Bush urged Russia to "reconsider this irresponsible decision," which he said was inconsistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions that predate the conflict and a French-brokered cease-fire agreement.
We've got nothing.
- Russia has officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, which could very well lead to more fighting in Georgia.
- Senator Series Of Toobs (R-Alaska) won his primary, assuring he'll lose in November.
- Gustav's run in the Gulf of Mexico is driving oil up.
- Google Earth is blocking more and more aerial photos worldwide of what DNI Mike McConnell says are "sensitive sites".
- Nintendo and Sony battle for handheld dominance, but in the wings is the open source Wiz.