Friday, December 25, 2009

Ruth's Report

Ruth: McClatchy Newspaper's Sahar Issa has done a violence round-up which posted today. All the events listed were either covered by C.I. this morning or in yesterday's snapshot. Hannah Allem reports on some of the violence targeting Shi'ites and Iraqi Christians in the last few days (including today) and notes, "In Iraq, the Islamic New Year is marked with somber rituals that build up to Ashoura on Sunday, when a million or more pilgrims are expected to converge on the city of Karbala. Despite the bloodshed, Shiites vowed to carry on with their ceremonies - which include staging passion plays and cooking special dishes -- though many said they'd add extra prayers to protect Iraq in the volatile months before elections in March." I will add it should read "before intended elections in March." Remember when we were all being told that elections would take place in January? Remember the failure to use "hopeful" or "intended" back then?

This is not my year-in-review piece (but I will call this "Ruth's Report"). I wish it were because I have so many notes for that. Even so, as the year draws to a close, it is difficult not to go ahead and make an observation on 2009, an observation or two.

So Barack Obama, after campaigning on the 'promise' that he would end the Iraq War, withdraw one brigade a month from Iraq as soon as he was sworn in, etc., was sworn in at the start of the year and the one brigade a month 'promise' is a puff of smoke.

Remember when Leslie Cagan and the other useless 'leaders' of United For Peace & Justice posted their 'success' message the day after the November 2008 election? 'Success' because Barack Obama had been elected president.

Strange, I was under the impression that (a) UFPJ was a peace organization and (b) it was non-partisan. In fact, I believe its tax status demanded that it be non-partisan.

And then there were the months and months when calling a War Hawk a "War Hawk" meant people would try to bully you online -- often peace 'leaders' like Tom Hayden, for example, so fond of hectoring Wally and Cedric by e-mail until C.I. put a stop to that. Yes, our peace 'leaders' could do hectoring e-mails, they just could not lead a mass mobilization against a War Hawk who was from the Democratic Party.

Or at least this one. I am often asked by confused people about supporting Hillary Clinton int he primary. "How do you know," they still ask, "that she would have ended the Iraq War?" I do not know that. But I know that the left was not afraid to criticize her. I know that the left would not have been cowed into silence if she had been the Democratic Party nominee (and any nominee would have ended up president).

But throughout 2009, it still played a lot like 2008 and 2007. Too many people making excuses for Barack Obama. Too many telling you that Mr. Obama really meant this . . . even though he said and did that.

He is a War Hawk.

When I was in college, J.F.K. was president. So I have lived a long, long time. And I can remember L.B.J. being president. And I can remember a left not afraid to call out a War Hawk with "D" (for Democrat) after his name.

The inaugural week festivities are still taking place as President Obama authorizes a bombing of Pakistan (via drone) and the timid struggle all these months later to state the obvious: He is a War Hawk.

One of the only arguments against Ms. Clinton that I seriously considered was that the public might get pulled back into a back and forth like during the nineties when her husband was president.

I do not dislike Bill Clinton. I think he did much good and I think he was up against a great deal. But I do find it hilarious to read the revisionary nonsense that only C.I. ever seems able or willing to call out. The nineties were not the left protesting Bill Clinton. A young man, a U.S. citizen, for example, was tortured into a confession in Singapore and then beaten in an inhumane manner as part of his sentence. It did not result in an outcry. It did not result in demands on then-President Clinton. Nothing did.

And yet to hear the 'left' 'voices' tell it today, they were demanding and calling out and just so-so very brave during the 90s.

Sometimes, such as during the impeachment/witch hunt, when the left simply closed ranks and protected Mr. Clinton against the mob, it was understandable. Other times it was not.

And when someone would say that Ms. Clinton, as president, would be inviting that back, I would think, "No, she would not."

First, despite the dementia of Robert Parry, Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton. She is her own person. She has always proven to be able to both (a) take a punch and (b) stand on her own. Right-wing attacks on Hillary Clinton? She is pretty much immune to them. (A fact we were never allowed to explore in the 'left' media during 2008.) And when she takes a stand, she stays with it. She is usually more firm in her standing than her husband.

Second, with so much hatred (so much of it hatred of her husband, so much of it hatred of women) already aimed from the left at Hillary, it was doubtful the left would be steered into a shut-up-it's-for-the-best position under a Hillary Clinton presidency.

But the same people allegedly wary of Hillary Clinton because they feared the left might stifle criticism and march blindly behind a President Hillary Clinton were doing just that for Barack Obama. We could never criticize him, we could never question him, and we could never pressure him.

'Left' 'voices' like Tom Hayden and Laura Flanders would fawn and praise him. And tell us, during the primaries, that we would pressure during the general campaign. Then, after he got the nomination, we were told the pressure would come after he was sworn in. Then, he was sworn in and we were told we needed to give him a "honeymoon." I thought we were electing a president, not taking on a groom?

Even now, just this week on NPR, in fact, we are told we cannot pressure him. I listened to some loon from The New Republic insist that.

I did not need to wait for the events of 2009 to unfold to realize that 'brave' 'voices' would take a dive. I saw that as 2007 was drawing to a close. For example, Laura Flanders, as host of Your Call, was an open lesbian. She moved over to Air America Radio and spent her hours talking about her cat but not about any significant other. She just sort of dashed back into the closet. And in November 2007, when candidate Barack Obama put multiple homophobes on stage at an event, when some LGBT organizations protested, Laura Flanders decided it was time to insist that Barack Obama repudiate . . .


The self-loathing lesbian had no problem that homophobic people, people who preach hatred of and violence on gay people, were given the stage at an official Barack Obama campaign event whose sole purpose was to 'dog whistle' to those right-wingers Mr. Obama felt so comfortable with that he would embrace them.

Ms. Flanders has hectored over and over about Sister Souljah. Sister Souljah was a little-known rap artist who gave an interview to The Washington Post and floated the notion (seriously or humorously) that violence might be an answer. Then candidate Bill Clinton called it out. Was he attempting to score points?

I honestly do not know what he was attempting. And I have not spent 17 years obsessing over it the way Ms. Flanders has. But if that mattered to her, why did Mr. Obama's embrace of homophobia -- public embrace -- which was clearly intended to send a message (and apparently did to a significant number of his supporters in California who voted to overturn marriage equality -- aided in their votes by the robocalls featuring Mr. Obama denouncing same-sex marriage) did not bother her.

She has, to this day, refused to call President Obama out on any of his homophobia. Apparently, Ms. Flanders is quite happy in her closet.

The New Republic-er was on NPR this week with a loud mouth Barack supporter who has now grown disenchanted. Considering the foul mouthed e-mail he sent C.I. back in January (for daring to question St. Barack -- we all saw the e-mail before C.I. did), I will not mention his name here. I will do nothing to promote him. I may, however, at my site, refer to that e-mail/rage in text form, which was so sexist and so threatening that I seriously doubt he would have much of a following today if even half the people who know his name were aware of the way he storms and threatens. Today, he has finally awakened to the Flim-Flam Man Barack Obama.

And now he wants to make like Christopher Columbus, plant his flag, and announce, "My discovery!"

But the reality for Foul Mouth is the same as it was for Christopher Columbus: Long before, either man 'discovered' anything, there were already a huge number of us here.

C.I. had a wonderful comment this week regarding a piece by Matthew Rothschild (of The Progressive) where she noted, "I don't want blood. I do want accountability." I agree with that sentiment. And I am not in the mood to allow, for example, Norman Solomon to creep back in without him taking accountability for what he did. This week, he and Jeff Cohen dusted off their tired spoof of the Pulitzers.

Was that ever funny?

I am reminded of the American Dad episode where Stan has a panic attack because Francine does not laugh at his tired joke. He has an identity crisis and leaves her. Francine calls her mother who explains she always laughs at her husband's joke, "And it never funny." She goes on to say that for a few months it was funny because it had been so unfunny for so many years. That is what I think of Mr. Solomon and Mr. Cohen's tired, yearly column.

But as to the specific one this year, I read through it and marveled over both men's ability to call others out for short comings when neither man has ever taken accountability for putting Barack Obama in the White House (Mr. Solomon was a pledged delegate for Mr. Obama, a fact he 'forgot' to reveal on numerous radio programs). Both men now (weakly) call out President Obama, yet neither man has taken accountability for their actions, for their cheer leading, for their attacks on people who raised objections to Mr. Obama when it mattered. I remember one on-air snit-fit by Mr. Solomon where he attacked a leftist for not supporting Barack in the summer of 2008 and began smearing the person with unfounded rumors. The exact thing he will insist that no one ever do . . . except when he does it and then he expects not just a pass, he expects that no one ever comment on it.

As C.I. said this week, "I don't want blood. I do want accountability." Or as John Lennon sang so many years ago, "Just give me some truth."

mcclatchy newspapers
hannah allam

matthew rothschild