Friday, February 6, 2009

AP gets Obama-Iraq ‘withdrawal’ story wrong

If only “combat troops,” whatever the hell they are, are scheduled for removal from Iraq, then we’re not actually withdrawing now, are we?

In fairness to the AP, many Obamiacs missed this distinction six months ago. Or ignored it. Or tried to explain it away.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Opposing Israel's War On Gaza: A petition

There is an excellent petition, founded by two Jewish men and directed at American Jews originally, but open and inviting signers of any religion and nationality.

Please forgive me if this has already been posted here. Love to all members present and future (!) of this Caucus!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Lawless Democracy Is No Democracy At All

One of Andrew Sullivan's readers has pointed to what I have long believed was the central folly of Bush's strategy to rebuild Iraq:

I think the folly of introducing "democracy" with the hasty election scheme was disastrous and foreseeable. Any serious student of geopolitics knows that the rule of law is the fundamental precursor to a functioning democracy - institutions, culture, accepted norms... need to be shaped and accepted thoroughly over generations. Our own democracy did not drop out of the sky in 1776, it was a product of centuries of British history. As the already sixty year rise of South Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc. reveal, the transition from rule of law to democracy occurs in different ways in different cultures, and typically takes several decades, not months.
From the beginning, the Bush Administration has pushed the idea that democratic elections are a panacea for all of Iraq's troubles. But the rule of law must always come first. Elections without trust in government, the trust that only comes after years of living under law and impossible under the regime of a dictator like Saddam Hussein or a vindictively partisan parliament like the one we've seen over the last 4+ years, are worth nothing if their result is inevitably to grant authority to leaders who are above the law.

I could have told you that even when I was a conservative Republican, but today's GOP is obviously not the place to look for people who believe themselves accountable to their oaths of office.

Placing democracy before the rule of law in Iraq is yet another example of Bush, whose very presidency hinged on a legal ruling that trumped the majority vote Gore received, showing clearly that he lacks the capacity for self-reflection. If there ever were a President who lived an unexamined life, it was Dubya.

Of course, how could we expect a President, who spent his entire tenure insisting that it was his right to violate whatever law he chose, to understand the central importance of law--thus trust--in a free society?

Cross-Posted at Decline and Fall.

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Iraq: Obama vs Petraeus? Or Good Cop, Bad Cop Kabuki?

After historian, national security policy analyst and investigative journalist Gareth Porter's February 2 IPS article US-IRAQ: Generals Seek to Reverse Obama Withdrawal Decision, which TomP essayed about here Tuesday, Porter then was interviewed by The Real News about his story that the Pentagon and CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq General Ray Odierno, and retired Generals, have launched the beginnings of a media campaign to undermine President Barack Obama and his stated plans to withdraw all "combat troops" from Iraq within 16 months and his order to Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, Gates, and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan for doing so.

Real News: February 3, 2009 - 7 minutes 55 seconds
Petraeus versus the President?
Gareth Porter: US military leaders are pressuring Obama to cancel his Iraq withdrawal promise

The base premise of Porter's article and his Real News interview is that The Pentagon and the Generals, presumably backed by the foreign policy establishment, are creating a narrative of 18 months of "success" in Iraq and Obama blowing it and throwing away all the supposed "gains" made beginning with Bush's "surge", to pressure Obama into easing up on plans to withdraw from Iraq, and thus pitting Obama as the deliverer of "change" against the Bush policy of occupation of Iraq and domination of the Middle East in direct opposition to and counterbalancing the "threat" posed by Iran.

Obama the "anti-imperialist" vs hegemony and imperialism, in so many words.

But is this what is really happening, or are we witnessing a smoke and mirrors kabuki in which both sides are playing their roles perfectly? Is the whole play meant to fog the situation and enable Obama, who has said in the past that he will "listen" to his Generals, to appear to have done his best and eventually relent on his campaign promises in the face of "reality" and continue the occupation of Iraq for years to come?

As I quoted back in July 2007 in George W. Obama? Or Hillary R. Bush? during the run-up to the Democratic National Convention and before Obama become the nominee, Ira Chernus, Professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, had this to say about Iraq and the US foreign policy Gordian knot in Tomgram: Ira Chernus, Democratic Doublespeak on Iraq

Start with the simplest, most basic fudge.  Newspapers and the TV news constantly report on various plans for the "withdrawal of American troops" from Iraq, when what's being proposed is the withdrawal of American "combat troops" or "combat brigades." This isn't a matter of splitting hairs; it's the difference between a plan for full-scale withdrawal and a plan to remain in Iraq in a different military form for the long term. American combat brigades only add up to perhaps half of the troops we presently have in that country.

Pity the poor Democratic candidates for president, caught between Iraq and a hard place. Every day, more and more voters decide that we must end the war and set a date to start withdrawing our troops from Iraq. Most who will vote in the Democratic primaries concluded long ago that we must leave Iraq, and they are unlikely to let anyone who disagrees with them have the party's nomination in 2008.

But what does it mean to "leave Iraq"? Here's where most of the Democratic candidates come smack up against that hard place. There is a longstanding bipartisan consensus in the foreign-policy establishment that the US must control every strategically valuable region of the world -- and none more so than the oil heartlands of the planet. That's been a hard-and-fast rule of the elite for some six decades now. No matter how hard the task may be, they demand that presidents be rock-hard enough to get the job done.

So whatever "leave Iraq" might mean, no candidate of either party likely to enter the White House on January 20, 2009 can think it means letting Iraqis determine their own national policies or fate.
So the Democratic front-runners must promise voters that they will end the war -- with not too many ideologically laden ifs, ands, or buts -- while they assure the foreign-policy establishment that they will never abandon the drive for hegemony in the Middle East (or anywhere else). In other words, the candidates have to be able to talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time.

Chernus continued in his article with a neocon delighting quote from Obama that sounds for all the world lifted directly from the PNAC/Bush playbook:

"The single most important job of any president is to protect the American people," he affirmed in a major foreign-policy statement last April. But "the threats we face.... can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.... The security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people." That's why the U.S. must be the "leader of the free world." It's hard to find much difference on foreign policy between Clinton and Obama, except that Barack is more likely to dress up the imperial march of U.S. interests in such old-fashioned Cold War flourishes.

That delights neoconservative guru Robert Kagan, who summed up Obama's message succinctly:  "His critique is not that we've meddled too much but that we haven't meddled enough.... To Obama, everything and everyone everywhere is of strategic concern to the United States."  To control everything and everyone, he wants "the strongest, best-equipped military in the world.... A 21st century military to stay on the offense." That, he says, will take at least 92,000 more soldiers and Marines -- precisely the number Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has recommended to President Bush.

A beautiful play? A set piece?

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Monday, February 2, 2009




"Rush Limbaugh on Hannity - I hope Obama Fails with His Socialist Agenda - Part 2"
Two sick, traitorous a-holes. Conservatives, in other words.

Now They're Using Rank Right-Wing Partisanship To Scuttle The U.S. Economy Out Of Spite

Politics as usual from the GOPers: After admitting how pleased they were that our new President had made a rare Executive visit to the Legislative Branch (to the Republicans first) only the day before, the very next day the 'Pukes voted against the only economic stimulus package currently on the table. After giving Dubya a blank check (which he promptly gave away to his buddies on Wall Street, who instantly blew it on bonuses, dividends and acquisitions) now the 'Pukes won't give Obama one thin dime. Screw America!

Obama angered many in his own Party by reaching out to the 'Pukes, even reshaping his stimulus plan to meet their demands. But that wasn't good enough for the Grand Old Party that America just threw out the windows of the Executive and Legislative branches. They claim that the package gives too much to ordinary working Americans, and not enough to themselves and their rich lazy friends and crooked corporations. But, really, this is the opening shot in the campaign for Congress in 2010.

The Repuke's Reichsmarshall, Fat Herman, er, Fat Rush, shadow Minister of Propaganda of the crypto-Nazi government in exile, has openly called upon his fellow Fascisti to do everything they can to scuttle the U.S. economy, and damn the consequences. Wealth, privilege and power are at stake here for our hereditary parasites and foreign corporations. The people who used to bleat "America First!" are now sniveling "SCREW America."

I really don't see how the Red States, those racist throwbacks who voted for McBush, can stomach their "champions" in Congress and the tame corporate media today. After all, through their own ignorance and stupidity, they are the poorest States in the nation. They'll be the first ones to suffer, they'll suffer the most, and they'll be the last to recover. From Alabammy to Idyho, pointy-headed ignoramuses will be unable to hold onto their jobs and businesses, homes and SUVs, wives and families, guns and dogs. Their life-long desire to live in a Country-Western song will be fulfilled. Then they'll shoot their whole families.


The corporate media are already blaming Obama, in office for two weeks, for anything and everything. Despite his kow-towing to them on every issue, they're out for his blood, and ours. Despite the fact that Dubya took the Clinton budget surplus and blew it out his psuedo-redneck ass, and pushed deregulation to the point where it crippled the entire economy, sending gas prices sky-high and home prices mud-low, with joblessness headed for 1929 levels, "Obama is at fault." So the Repukelickin's are going to obstruct and punish him, and every living American, until they get back in power and ruin us all over again.

The ultimate goal of today's Party of Lincoln is to enslave all of us, to bring us all down to the economic level of the Red States and lower, the Third World. They want to be slave-masters, hidalgos, patroon's, lords of the manor. They want to roll the clock back to Old Testament times, and they want to be Pharaoh. They always talk about "class-warfare," as if the average American even knew what that was. Well, now they're going to show us.

In the words of George W. Bush, "Bring it on!"

If moderate mild-mannered center-Right Obama and his crew of Republican-Lite DINO's and "Blue Dogs" was too far left for them, then let them have a taste of democratic socialism. Not the Red States, of course: Cut them off completely. If their Representatives in Congress don't want any stimulus, don't give them any. Most of them live in negative-tax States anyway: They pay less in taxes than they receive in Federal moneys. Screw 'em. We obviously don't need their votes. They obviously do not understand the changes that came in November: They lost, we won, get out of the way. If all they're going to do is obstruct us, let's just push them to the side. Raw naked capitalism has simply not worked, ever, for 99% of Americans. It's time we lived as well as people in other advanced industrialized nations. If that means socialism, let's give it a try, with an American spin.

You had your chance, Repukes, and you blew it. Again. You deserve Gitmo, nor more consideration. Screw you!

BOYCOTT RUSH: List Of Limbaugh Show Advertisers.

"US-IRAQ: Generals Seek to Reverse Obama Withdrawal Decision"
And none dare call it treason.

' The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama's withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the Jan. 21 meeting when retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Gen. Petraeus, appeared on the Lehrer News Hour to comment on Obama's pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal. Keane, who had certainly been briefed by Petraeus on the outcome of the Oval Office meeting, argued that implementing such a withdrawal of combat troops would "increase the risk rather dramatically over the 16 months". He asserted that it would jeopardise the "stable political situation in Iraq" and called that risk "not acceptable". The assertion that Obama's withdrawal policy threatens the gains allegedly won by the Bush surge and Petraeus's strategy in Iraq will apparently be the theme of the campaign that military opponents are now planning. Keane, the Army Vice-Chief of Staff from 1999 to 2003, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star Army generals, and since Obama's Jan. 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama's troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow U.S. withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network's plans. The source says the network, which includes senior active duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama's withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy. If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without U.S. troops. That line seems likely to appeal to reporters covering the Iraq troop withdrawal issue. Ever since Obama's inauguration, media coverage of the issue has treated Obama' s 16-month withdrawal proposal as a concession to anti-war sentiment which will have to be adjusted to the "realities" as defined by the advice to Obama from Gates, Petreaus and Odierno. Ever since he began working on the troop surge, Keane has been the central figure manipulating policy in order to keep as many U.S. troops in Iraq as possible. It was Keane who got Vice President Dick Cheney to push for Petraeus as top commander in Iraq in late 2006 when the existing commander, Gen. George W. Casey, did not support the troop surge. It was Keane who protected Petraeus's interests in ensuring the maximum number of troops in Iraq against the efforts by other military leaders to accelerate troop withdrawal in 2007 and 2008. As Bob Woodward reported in "The War Within", Keane persuaded President George W. Bush to override the concerns of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the stress of prolonged U.S. occupation of Iraq on the U.S. Army and Marine Corps as well its impact on the worsening situation in Afghanistan. '

"House passes stimulus plan, but with no Republican votes"
First blood.
' After a sharply partisan debate on Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed an $819 billion economic stimulus package designed to create millions of jobs quickly and give consumers more money to spend. The vote was 244 to 188. None of the House's 178 Republican members voted yes. Despite a fresh plea for cooperation from President Barack Obama , who insisted that "we don't have a moment to spare," Republicans spurned the Democratic bill. The White House tried hard to soften the partisan edges. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel met privately on Tuesday night with a small group of GOP moderates, but the effort was futile. '

"Obama, Visiting G.O.P. Lawmakers, Is Open to Some Compromise on Stimulus "
Bearding the weasel in his den?
' President Obama made a campaign trip of sorts on Tuesday to seek bipartisan support for his economic stimulus plan, visiting Republicans on Capitol Hill and suggesting that he was open to some limited revisions that would address their demands for more tax cuts. But, Republicans interviewed after the meeting said, Mr. Obama told them he would listen to proposals to expand on provisions cutting taxes for small businesses and would be opento corporate tax cuts as well if Republicans cooperated to close tax loopholes for big business. Democrats said Mr. Obama could also support a demand from a senior Senate Republican, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, to add a provision adjusting the alternative minimum tax so that it does not hit millions of middle-class taxpayers this year. That would add costs of nearly $70 billion over 10 years to a package that Republicans already say is too big. Trying to forestall other Republican attacks, Democrats also stripped out $200 million for restoring the National Mall, another provision that the minority had mocked. '

"Obama urges Democrats to dump family planning from stimulus"
The Great Compromiser strikes out. Well, he tried, didn't he?
' President Barack Obama is urging congressional Democrats to drop a proposal to spend money on family planning from the proposed $825 billion package to stimulate the economy, a symbolic gesture that could help him make inroads into Republican ranks. With the move to drop the controversial family-planning money from the stimulus package - as well as cordial lunch meetings at the Capitol with Republicans - Obama started selling himself to the opposition party as a good cop to the bad cop of congressional Democratic leaders such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "The key right now is to make sure that we keep politics to a minimum," Obama said as he traveled between his Capitol meetings. "There are some legitimate philosophical differences with parts of my plan that the Republicans have, and I respect that. ... I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside and do the American people's business right now." Republicans were pleased with the outreach from the Democratic president, comparing it favorably with what they say is the cold shoulder they've received from Democrats who are running Congress. "We are grateful," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. "House Democrats have completely ignored President Obama's call for bipartisan compromise." '

"Obama: Urgent Action Needed for Economic Recovery"
From the horse's mouth.
' We start 2009 in the midst of a crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetime - a crisis that has only deepened over the last few weeks. Nearly two million jobs have now been lost, and on Friday we are likely to learn that we lost more jobs last year than at any time since World War II. Just in the past year, another 2.8 million Americans who want and need full-time work have had to settle for part-time jobs. Manufacturing has hit a twenty-eight year low. Many businesses cannot borrow or make payroll. Many families cannot pay their bills or their mortgage. Many workers are watching their life savings disappear. And many, many Americans are both anxious and uncertain of what the future will hold. I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world. In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse. '

" 'Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails' ... but Rush's recent record stinks"
Rush is WAAAAAAAY Right!
' The next two days of Obamapalooza will be filled with good feelings and positive vibes. Except from one man, Rush Limbaugh. The other day, Rush related how a publication asked him -- to mark Tuesday's inauguration -- for 400 words on his hopes for the Obama Administration. El Rushbo, take it from here: "My hope, and please understand me when I say this. I disagree fervently with the people on our side of the aisle who have caved and who say, 'Well, I hope he succeeds. We've got to give him a chance.' Why? They didn't give Bush a chance in 2000. Before he was inaugurated, the search-and-destroy mission had begun. I'm not talking about search-and-destroy, but I've been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don't want them to succeed "If I wanted Obama to succeed, I'd be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he's talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the U.S. government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work. So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, 'Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.' (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here's the point. Everybody thinks it's outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, 'Oh, you can't do that.' Why not? Why is it any different, what's new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what's gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don't care what the drive-by story is. I would be honored if the drive-by media headlined me all day long: 'Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.' Somebody's gotta say it." '

[Cross-posted at blog me no blogs by cosanostradamus]

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