Saturday, June 23, 2007

Burns, Kimberley, Street and Parry

In an otherwise upbeat assessment, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking American commander in Iraq, told reporters that leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia had been alerted to the Baquba offensive by widespread public discussion of the American plan to clear the city before the attack began.

That's from John F. Burns' "Top Targets Fled Before U.S. Push, Commander Says" in today's New York Times (only Iraq article) and you can finger the Bully Boy for his non-stop jaw boning (in which case, please note that the Bully Boy put the troops and the mission at risk!) or you can also wonder how many al Qaeda there were in the region to begin with? Puzzle it because there are no answers.

If Mark Mazzetti says it, you know the CIA wants it. But, as the Stones long ago pointed out, you can't always get what you want. Nor should you. In a nonsense article by a nonsense writer, Michael V. Hayden is repeatedly referred to as "general." He is not a general. That is an old title. He is now Director of the CIA. He is "Director Hayden." If Hayden wants to be a general, with the nation engaged in two wars, by all means resign the post and return to the military. But Hayden is the director and that is his title. There is enough militarization of the government without someone holding a civilian post being being billed with a military title. It's not up for grabs, it's not open to discussion. He took the position of director and that's the title that came with the position. Mazzetti and the Times need to be accurate.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

Kyle was the first to note Margaret Kimberley's "Supreme Injustices" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

George W. Bush is president because of the United States Supreme Court. Were it not for the decision to stop counting votes in Bush v. Gore, Al Gore would be president of the United States instead. The right wing presidential victory was the culmination of many years of effort to take over the federal judiciary. Now Bush has two Supreme Court justices confirmed on his watch, and the damage to the justice system in this country is immense.
In the past month, the Roberts court has lived up to predictions that the worst case scenario has come to full fruition. In Ledbetter v. Goodyear, the court essentially advised workers to file discrimination lawsuits as soon as they begin a new job. Discrimination complaints under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act must now be made within 180 days of the discriminatory pay practice taking place. If the victim smells a rat after 180 days, there is no legal remedy and employers have no fear of legal retribution.
Ledbetter was just the beginning of hell month for the American justice system. In the Uttecht v. Brown decision, the Supreme Court ruled that potential jurors who express any reservations about the death penalty can be excluded from death penalty eligible cases. In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said, "Millions of Americans oppose the death penalty. A cross section of virtually every community in the country includes citizens who firmly believe the death penalty is unjust but who nevertheless are qualified to serve as jurors in capital cases."
Pro-death penalty jurors are more likely to convict. That means mostly black and Latino defendants have the deck stacked against them from the beginning with prejudiced, partial and almost always white jurors. These jurors are predisposed to see people of color behind bars and they are no more generous when the matter is life or death. As the use of DNA evidence has proven the innocence of hundreds of wrongly convicted persons, the death penalty has lost some measure of its popular support. That loss of support matters little if only racist, conviction happy jurors sit in judgment.
The Supremes weren't finished stacking the cards against defendants. Keith Bowles appealed his murder conviction in an Ohio court, but because of incorrect instructions from a judge, he did so three days too late. "Too bad," said five of nine justices. They ruled that the court's 40-year old doctrine of "unique circumstances" was wrong to begin with, and Bowles and anyone else like him will not get his day in court.

And Eddie notes this from Paul Street's "Barack Obama’s White Appeal and the Perverse Racial Politics of the Post-Civil Rights Era" (Black Agenda Report):

The technically biracial Obama's campaign and persona are perfectly calibrated for this era of victim-blaming neoliberal racism. He allows whites to assuage their racial guilt and feel non-racist by liking and perhaps even voting for him while signaling that he won't do anything to tackle and redress the steep racial disparities and systemic racial oppression that continue to deeply scar American life and institutions. "What... me and my country racist? You can't be serious: we're thinking seriously about voting for a black man as president. My wife and son just love Oprah and Jamie Fox."
This brings me to the third reason not to sing racial justice hosannas over the sudden rise of Obama. Race- and racism-avoidance have become the orders of the day in an officially "color-blind" neoliberal age in ways that are unintentionally suggested at the end of the professor's comment given at the beginning of this article.
The main problem with the conventional white wisdom holding that racism no longer poses relevant barriers to black advancement and black-white equality in post-Civil Rights America is a failure to distinguish adequately between overt "state of mind" racism and covert institutional, societal, and "state-of-being" racism (Street 2002; Street 2004a; Street 2007).

Kayla notes Robert Parry's "Is Obama Getting 'Colin-ized'?" (Consortium News) where Parry's offering a recent historical perspective on the Democrats (and the illegal war). Earlier in this piece, he's already outlined the events of the 2004 DNC convention and where we pick up, he's just noted the 2006 election campaigns:

Since then, however, the congressional Democrats have again listened to the consultants and drifted back into an avoidance of hard-fought confrontations with Bush over the Iraq War and the "war on terror."
Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other party leaders vowed they would never again give Bush a blank check on the Iraq War, key Democrats, including Sens.
Carl Levin and Barack Obama, started running up the white flag even as the legislative battle was beginning, by saying Democrats would never let the troops go without funding.
That concession signaled to Bush that he could simply keep vetoing troop withdrawal plans until the Democrats folded. As the Democrats eyed their Memorial Day recess -- and feared that Bush would use the holiday to bash them as anti-troop -- the surrender became official with the approval of another $100 billion blank check for Bush.
Obama hesitantly did join with the 29 Democrats who opposed the war funding bill -- along with his chief rival Hillary Clinton -- but neither Obama nor Clinton took the lead in the legislative battle.
More generally, Obama appears to have opted for a campaign strategy in which he will float above the partisan fray rather than jump into the trenches.
His decision to seek the counsel of Colin Powell -- a move leaked by the Obama campaign and confirmed by Powell on NBC’s "Meet the Press" -- suggests that the Illinois senator is hoping Powell's "gravitas" inside Washington might rub off. Powell also retains popularity with many centrist Americans despite his Iraq War role.
But the Obama-Powell alliance may mean, too, that Obama won't press very hard for an end of the Iraq War since Powell's current position is that the United States can’t afford to withdraw despite the many errors in implementing the war strategy.

For more on Powell, you can go to “Behind Colin Powell’s Legend” which is a folder of Consoritum News' hard-hitting coverage of Colin Powell (that begins before 2000 -- Parry and company are both covering the time before 2000 and they were also reporting on Powell in the 90s.) The e-mail address for this site is