Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Other Items (that 'tedious' Iraq War)

First off, Democracy Now! features an Asian-American voice. Linda Jue. If you've been paying attention this year or read Liang's column in Polly's Brew Sunday, you know how rare that has become for the show that has increasingly defined "race in America" as Black and White (or, as some argue, as Black and Jewish White). Juan Gonzalez is again hosting today so consider making time to check the broadcast out.

Let's turn to columns which we rarely note. Background, years ago, during the initial second wave of the Women's Liberation Movement, there were outlets that refused to let female reporters cover the movement, that claimed that women couldn't be objective. The same thing happened following Roe v. Wade with regards to abortion coverage. If you want to know what was supposedly feared in terms of lack of objectivity, look no further than Bob Herbert's latest incoherent nonsense entitled "Can Obama Run the Offense?". Now most of us are aware Herbert made a mini-'name' for himself (and interested the Times to begin with) by demonizing African-Americans (primarily African-American males) while working at The New York Daily News. If he thinks his work on behalf of the bi-racial blunder changes that past or makes up for it, he is sadly mistaken.

If the Times thinks he contributes a column, they are sadly mistaken. Before we go further, it should be noted that (at best) Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd went out of their way to demonstrate (repeatedly!) that they were not bound by any internal, self-ruling to support other women. Herbert's felt no need to assert any 'independence.' And, of course, no one has ever expected it from him. Because in American society, it's always the worst to be the "girl."

Here's Herbert attempting (yet again) to ride to Barack's rescue (opening paragraph):

Let's see if I've got this straight, Barack Obama is a United States senator, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his party's candidate for president of the United States -- and yet it was somehow presumptuous of him to meet with foreign leaders last week during his trip to the Middle East and Europe.

First, Barack is the "presumed" or "presumptive" candidate. Until the convention, there is no candidate. Try sticking to the facts. "Meet with foreign leaders"? Yeah, he looks like a complete strutting ass going to Europe to meet with leaders and there's a reason for that -- one Herbert never commented on in real time.

Keven Rudd, Australia's Prime Minister, visited the United States and attempted to meet with front runner candidates (as well as visit the White House) face-to-face. Which front runner couldn't be bothered? That would be Barack Obama. Australia has a long, long historic relationship with the US. Sadly, those ties led Australia into the illegal war (though former prime minister John Howard didn't need a great deal of prodding). But Barack didn't have time for Kevin Rudd. A prime minister elected with the hope that he would end Australia's involvement in the Iraq War. A person hailed as a "change" leader. And Barack was just too damn busy?

Herbert might try leaving his bubble in NYC and interacting with the world. This community has a ton of Australian members and they found it offensive -- they found a great deal offensive. Barack issued a press release and couldn't get John Curtin's name correct (a huge insult in Australia). Barack made a few minutes (20) time for a phone call to Rudd while Hillary broke from campaigning to meet with Rudd face-to-face for twice that amount of time. I'm real sorry that Bob Herbert is so terminally ignorant but there's no reason to punish readers for that fact.

Herbert wants to know what's so bad about "a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee" traveling the globe to meet with leaders? Because it was a campaign stunt and because it was campaign stunts that have prevented Barack from doing the job he's supposed to do as a first-term senator.

Katie Couric interviewed Barack for the CBS Evening News
(as Herbert knows, he gets his digs in) and Ava and I felt she should have pressed Barack further on Afghanistan:

Couric's follow up question should have been, "You're saying that Afghanistan is something the full Senate committee should address and you're touting Afghanistan as 'the central front in the war on terror.' Well on January 31st, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Afghanistan, heard testimony from the State Dept.'s Richard Boucher and you didn't attend that hearing. Do you think now you should have been at the hearing?"
We're sure Barack would have tried to weasel out with the claim that he was debating Hillary in Los Angeles. Yes, that night. The hearing started at 9:30 a.m. EST. With a three hour time difference between the East Coast and the West Coast and a 'new' thing called "airplanes," there was no reason for him to skip the hearing.
While the hearing was going on, Barack was speaking at the Trade Technical Community College -- which was only one of his many campaign stops that day. We do not agree with a 'war on terror,' nor do we claim that Afghanistan needs more US troops or more war. But Barack claims that . . . now. What did he say about 'ready on day one isn't enough, you have to be right on day one'? On January 31st when Afghanistan was the issue of the committee he 'serves' on, he thought it was more important to visit community colleges and drum up votes than to focus on what he calls 'the central front in the war on terror.'

Barack couldn't be bothered on Januray 31st. Bob Herbert will go on to lament the housing crisis, et al, in his column. He will write, "Americans are losing jobs, losing the equity in their homes, losing their retirement nest eggs, and tragically, in increasing numbers, actually losing the family home itself." And exactly how is that addressed with Barack traipsing the globe? These aren't new developments and of course, one of Barack's initial sell-outs as US Senator was to side with the banking industry and make it more difficult for citizens to declare bankruptcy. Barack's also got big money backing him that is tied to the current crimes. And "current" needs to be clarified. These aren't new developments. Barack's not addressed them. And he can't address them on a whirlwind European and MidEast tour. [July 18th, Bill Moyers Journal (here for transcript) did the strongest report on the housing crimes of any American outlet so far.]

Herbert's column is so pathetic that he tries to drag Rev. Jesse Jackson into it -- or rather, tries to drag Rev. Jackson through the mud. Yes, he's allegedly writing about Barack's summer trip but he's got to go back to an already dead topic. (Or maybe he still has a need to trash African-American males? That would explain his love for Barack.)

His love affair is so intense that he's even willing to disown his past work regarding Iraq and to trash the topic of the illegal war as he furiously scribbles: "And for all the tedious talk about timelines and what the surge in Iraq has or has not accomplished, the top three issues in this campaign are still the economy, the economy and the economy." Oh look, Bob Herbert has spliced James Carville and Tim Russert into one person ("It's the economy, stupid" meets "Florida, Florida, Florida!"). It's 2008 and we're getting tired crap -- recycled from 1992 and 2000 -- from Bob Herbert?

"All the tedious talk about timelines"? The Iraq War has gone on for five years now. I'm really sorry that Bob Herbert's Dream Lover can't answer a damn question; however, the people have a right to know about timelines and the 'surge.' It's too bad that Bob Herbert has sold out whatever tiny bit of integrity he had to whine that Iraq is a distraction. He really is pathetic and his column today is a horrid piece that not only lacks style or grace, it lacks coherent thought. Paul Krugman's been advised to focus on the economy before. Maybe Bob Herbert needs to be advised to focus on the topic he was hired to cover -- and, no, it wasn't national political races.

Columnists? Reading the New York Times' news section, you may be reminded of another columnist. Specifically Norman Solomon. Solomon once billed himself as a media critic but that really doesn't fly now that he's a delegate for Barack. The reality is that Solomon's as bad as Herbert about dusting off old columns each year and trying to call them "new." Around 2006, Solomon was no longer of any use to Iraq. As most will remember, he could go storm any outlet to plead for a reporter while forgetting that Ehren Watada was the story and Ehren was facing a court-martial. Norman was so devoted to the female reporter that some joked he was showing up on CB radio to plead her case. (The reporter might be asked to testify at Watada's court-martial and -- horror! -- if asked, she might have to decide whether she should testify or shouldn't! She couldn't say what she'd do. But she wanted the whole world to be outraged for her. As did Norman.)

Thom Shanker contributes "Air Force Plans Altered Role in Iraq" -- the air war. Which has been ongoing and which -- as during Vietnam -- will only increase. Fear of draw-downs in the number of US troops stationed in Iraq (which the Air Force agrees will happen), plans are made to increase the fly-overs and the bombings. And, guess what, "technical advisors" (remember Barack's 'plan' leaves those behind)? They'll be calling in air strikes. In fact, that's presented as a 'good' thing. "General North," Shanker writes, "dismissed that concern, saying that only United States or allied air controllers would be allowed to call in airstrikes from Americans or allied fighters and bombers. These restrictions would be part of a program to limit accidental civilian casualties should bombing play a larger role in the months ahead, commanders say." Limit casualties? Before Norman got hitched to Barack, he could have a field day with that laughable concept. Shanekr went to the "air operations center" but signed "a written agreement" which forbids him from naming "the base" or revealing its location. A lot of good minds going to waste trying to prop up a man. Maybe it's so disgusting to feminists because we long ago stopped seeing it as our life's goal to stroke the male ego? Luckily for Barack, handmaiden has become a gender neutral job.

Unluckily for Iraq, two who could be counted on to provide some much needed perspective and reality on the Iraq War have gone AWOL in order to prop up a War Hawk candidate. If there's any good to be found from Bob Herbert's public ditherings, it's that Norman Solomon is no longer the man who has embarrassed himself the most due to a crush on Barack. It's now Herbert. (We're not factoring in idiots like Tom-Tom who never possessed an ounce of intellectual heft. We're talking about strong minds and Norman and Bob Herbert were once of the two of the strongest when it came to taking on the Iraq War.) Solomon could grab Shanker's report and produce a blistering column. But he's a Barack Groupie these days and so many of them, like Bob Herbert, find talk of timelines for withdrawal "tedious." Find discussing the 'surge' "tedious."

Once upon a time, Bob Herbert and Norman Solomon grasped that if they didn't hit hard on the Iraq War, few would and the spin would take hold. It wasn't "tedious" back then. The 'surge' didn't work. Was never going to work. Because Barack couldn't say those words to Katie Couric, because he instead pushed the notion that it had worked, Barack's groupies no longer feel 'vested' in addressing the topic. It's all so 'tedious.' Funny thing is that US forces haven't left Iraq and many US families and Iraqi families would find the use of "tedious" to scoff at discussing timelines for withdrawal to be flat out offensive. But screw Iraqis, screw US service members, Bob Herbert's got a lover man to get into the White House.

Susan notes this from Team Nader:

Is Nader/Gonzalez for Real?


Is Nader/Gonzalez for Real? .

Is Nader/Gonzalez for real?

The country wants to know.

Will Nader/Gonzalez be on enough ballots in November to make a run for it?

And to be seriously considered for the Presidential debates?

We're now on 18 state ballots, heading toward 30 by August 10 - on our way to our ultimate goal of 45 states by September 20.

And getting to thirty won't happen unless we hit our goal of $100,000 by August 10. (Which would give us $2 million for the entire campaign year to date.)

Thanks to you, we're at over $13,000 in just a few short days.

But we need to jack it up this week.

Donate now and watch your contribution fuel our road-trippers all around the country.

On the ground, things are heating up and the press is starting to take notice.

In West Virginia, we turned in more than 24,000 signatures (15,000 valid required).

In Montana, our road trip team collected and turned in more than 10,000 signatures (5,000 required).

We've also collected enough signatures to get on the ballot in Tennessee and New Jersey.

In Missouri, today we will turn in more than 20,000 signatures (10,000 valid required).

This coming week, we're looking forward to ballot access victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming.

None of this would have been possible without your help.

Every time you hit the contribute button, you fuel this historic ballot access drive.

During our last two fundraising drives, you came through with flying colors.

First, we asked for $60,000. You did it - on time.

Then we asked for $70,000, and you pushed us over the top with time to spare.

Right now, we need to hit $100,000 to get us to 30 states.

These are the most crucial two weeks of the campaign.

Whether Nader/Gonzalez is for real in November depends on whether we can raise the money to pay for ballot access over the next two weeks.

Plain and simple.

So, please.

Donate now whatever you can - $10, $20, $100, $500 - to help us give America a choice in November.

For peace.

For justice.

For a safe and healthy future.

For shifting the power from the corporations, back into the hands of the people.

Together, we are making a difference.


The Nader Team

P.S. Thanks to all who participated in Saturday's house parties. They were a great success.

Your contribution could be doubled. Public campaign financing may match your contribution total up to $250.



And Kyle asks that we don't miss posting this from Team Nader:

Nader on Greider, Hightower and Kuttner


Nader on Greider, Hightower and Kuttner .

Dear Bill Greider, Jim Hightower, and Bob Kuttner:

I write this letter of inquiry out of respect and wonderment to my three friends whose progressive writings over the past generation have been second to none in the community of public intellectuals.

You write cogently - as if people matter first, as if responsive elections, politics and government are critical for a resourceful society that is functionally and institutionally dedicated to the pursuit of justice.

There is one exception to the above generalization with which I have direct familiarity.

In your recent writings and interviews, where you have had pertinent and relevant opportunity to inform your audiences, you declare your dissatisfaction with the two major parties and their leaders over specific issues and records of evasions and neglect.

But you make no mention of the Nader/Gonzalez campaign and its policies that are square on with your positions.

You ignore the areas of action and engagement we are representing or furthering and that McCain and Obama either oppose or ignore.

We're not inferring any endorsements here - just pointing out candidates who are reflecting your kind of political and economic advocacy.

My question is this:

If, year after year, the two major parties oppose or ignore our policy prescriptions, and often facilitate making conditions worse for the people, how do you propose to jump start or spark some movement inside the presidential electoral arena?

You and most of your policy colleagues, whether they write, speak, interview or conduct conferences, almost never choose to recognize or mention the positions and records very similar to yours that were taken, or are being taken, inside the presidential electoral arena by Nader/Camejo (2004) or Nader/Gonzalez (2008).

There are times during interviews on television or radio when the comment or question thrown out at you begs for some mention that someone out there, whom you have known for a long time, is contrasting and challenging the two party "elected" dictatorship that defiantly excludes or marginalizes competition - through state ballot laws and closed debates (a serious civil liberties issue, if nothing else).

The corporate Democrats who control the Party know that they will not be taken to task by the leading writers and polemicists of the progressive community in a way that will discomfort them - i.e. pointing out that their voters can avail themselves of other options on the ballot.

Is there any other language that they understand inside the electoral process?

It is as if your predecessors in the nineteenth century spoke out for abolition, suffrage, labor and farmer empowerment without mentioning or recognizing the existence of those small parties and independent candidates who pioneered, along with parallel civic movements, those great social justice advances we now take for granted.

None of these political candidates ever won a national election, but active speakers, writers, and conveners did not treat them as non-persons.

A very few of your colleagues are beginning to write about the number three presidential and vice presidential candidates in this race. (In Wimbledon or the NCAA tournament, the number 60th seed or team is given a chance to play.)

They realize what an effort it takes just to place one's candidacy on the playing field of a rigged system.

You should empathize enough to cover us on the road after Labor Day.

One journalist - Chris Hedges - found his breaking point and has written columns supporting our campaign.

What is your breaking point in this context?

Is that a valid question to ask as our country is being driven into the ground and its global corporations are tearing at its heart and soul?

Have you ever visited our websites in 2004 and 2008 - voternader.org?

I know about the uni-directional jackhammer nature of Washington's opinion oligopoly.

What I have difficulty understanding is what is its antonym in the progressive media when it comes to reporting and commenting about those who are contending inside the electoral arena?

I look forward to your considered response.

In the meantime, all of us at the Nader/Gonzalez campaign continue to absorb and value your insights and proposals but with a growing sense of puzzlement over the missing gap.

Sincerely yours,

Ralph Nader

P.S. Look at the near blackout nationally of the indictments this month brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General against state Democratic legislators and legislative aides using government time and taxpayer money to move against electoral and political opponents, including removing Nader/Camejo from the ballot during the 2004 presidential campaign. It was headline news in Pennsylvania but nationally, even the civil liberties groups were not moved. Without candidate rights, how valuable are voter rights in a gerrymandered nation?


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.