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Playing Down the Middle

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Posted on Jul 7, 2008
Obama
AP photo /J im Cole

By Bill Boyarsky

Politics is a cruel and disappointing business. This year, Democratic liberals gambled on a young man who offered hope and change. But after those wondrous primary days, they are furious over Sen. Barack Obama’s understandable effort to reach out to an electorate that is, and long has been, planted firmly in the middle of the road.

There should be neither surprise nor disappointment on the part of the sophisticates of MoveOn.org, political blogs, the New York Times editorial page and others who are busy these days mourning the loss of Obama’s purity. Still, they feel that way. Even when a liberal successfully executes the delicate dance toward the dominant moderate voters, as Bill Clinton did, he is never quite forgiven. The unforgiving attitude was extended to his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Smart Democrats understand that this is the only way to win. The smartest of them all, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was an expert at dumping the left, as his most liberal supporters learned early in his presidency.

In 1934, Upton Sinclair, a Socialist who had won the Democratic nomination for governor of California, thought he had a promise of help after a conversation with Roosevelt. But no help came. Under vicious Republican attack, he appealed to FDR. Greg Mitchell, in his book “The Campaign of the Century,” gave a chilling account of the Roosevelt White House’s political cruelty. Sinclair got no further than presidential aide Marvin H. McIntyre. “I wasn’t in the conference you had with the president,” McIntyre said, “but I really don’t think it should be classified as a promise. He doesn’t make promises of that kind.”

Sinclair, of course, should have heeded something else the charming and ambiguous Roosevelt told him: “I cannot go any faster than the people will let me go.”

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Neither will Obama.

Obama is showing this now with two important issues—withdrawal from Iraq and legislation concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

He has handled Iraq with an ambiguity that Roosevelt would have admired. From Iowa on, he boasted of his 2002 vote against the war, which separated him from Hillary Clinton and his other senatorial foes. But he left a huge loophole, almost overlooked by the wildly enthusiastic crowds and media.

He said he would withdraw combat brigades in 16 months but would leave a residual force of undetermined size. When he discussed this at a press conference last week, the residual force sounded as if it could be substantial—enough troops to train Iraqi soldiers and police and maintain “a counter-terrorism strike force in Iraq that assures that al-Qaida does not regain a foothold there.”

This looks like an open-ended commitment to me, and the left has some justification for reacting as it did. But while Obama’s plans may be open-ended, they are consistent.

Not so with the debate over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a terrible law that legalized our current electronic police state by firmly enshrining secret wiretapping in the law. It set up special FISA courts, which meet in secret. Government must have FISA court approval for wiretapping, but it is usually granted. In 2005, The New York Times reported that the Bush administration conducted electronic surveillance without FISA court permission.

The FISA court system is a phony process, but in the manner of Washington, the Democratic Congress has been at work trying to “improve” it by nibbling around the edges. One provision, insisted on by the Bush administration, would exempt the phone companies from being sued for cooperating with federal wiretappers. Obama at first opposed this, but now he goes along with a compromise worked out by congressional Democrats. It would exempt the phone companies from lawsuits over past wiretapping and make the government-phone company combine get approval from the sham FISA courts for future snooping.

The outcry from the liberal blogosphere was overwhelming. Admirably, Obama invited comment on his own Web site, my.barackobama.com. And he replied on the site: “The ability to monitor and track individuals who want to attack the United States is a vital counter-terrorism tool, and I’m persuaded that it is necessary to keep the American people safe. ... Given the choice between voting for an improved yet imperfect bill, and losing important surveillance tools, I’ve chosen to support the current compromise. ...”

It was a move to the center, which prompted The New York Times to attack Obama for supporting “a classic Washington deal that erodes the power of the special court. ...”

What power? The FISA courts have demonstrated very little. But that’s not the point.

The point is that Obama is being criticized for being what he always has been, a tough, exceedingly practical politician, able to hide his many ambiguities behind his charm, intelligence, charisma and oratorical skill.

He’s ahead in the polls, but he has a difficult challenge. You think it’s easy for a black man to be elected president?

I don’t want to see him locked in a bunch of doctrinaire positions that will scare away moderate Democratic and independent voters who don’t yet know much about him and who are likely to approach their historic vote with hesitancy.

I don’t give a damn what The New York Times thinks, after its disgraceful pre-Iraq war performance. Nor do I care about the left and its love of glorious defeat. Obama’s conduct is not disappointing. It’s the right thing to do. “I cannot go any faster than the people will let me go,” said FDR. Obama knows that’s the way he can win.

 


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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, July 15, 2008 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

By jersey girl, July 14 at 2:44 pm #

tony:  Pardon my ignorance but what is the ideology of a “scientific socialist?”
——————————————————————————-
jg,
“Scientific socialism” is just an old term which strikes my fancy. I think nowadays only old Marxists are familiar with it. If you take intro to Marxism, it is opposed to “utopian socialist”. Socialism began as an ideal of a “classless society”
where everyone is equal and wealth is shared. “From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.” The early socialists were called utopians because, condemning all the evils of capitalist society - its exploitation of labor and oppression of the poor -they proposed to go away from it and create such a society for themselves. They were like the hippies of the 60’s who dropped out of the rat race and tried to start communes where they could live a different kind of life. These efforts to start a socialist “utopia” were mostly failures then as now. Marxism begins by accepting the socialist ideal of the utopians, but consists largely in a critique of capitalism. According to Marx, the essential contradiction of capitalism is that wealth is produced by the people but is expropriated as private property by the property owners. Scientific socialism was called “scientific” because it claimed to study and deal with society as it is and asks how we may transform it in the direction of socialism.

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

Maani: I think I’ve figured out the identity of cyrena.  She’s Star Jones !

Report this

By Maani, July 14, 2008 at 8:16 pm Link to this comment

Cyrena:

“Maybe the terminology, specifically the word perfidy, is different when lawyers use it. WE know very well what it means. Maybe you should check another book.”

You mean, like the OED?  Funk & Wagnall’s?  Anerican Heritage?  Cambridge?  Sorry, but they all define the word “perfidy” the same way.

“If not, by all means, let it mean whatever you want it to mean. Like I said, most folks know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, even with no knowledge of the law.”

What does “law” and “lawyers” have to do with it? Firstly, as I have stated numerous times, I am NOT a lawyer.  Second, “perfidy” is a simple word that has little or nothing to do with law: it means exactly what Webster’s (and every other dictionary) defines it as.  Or are you trying to tell me that it depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is?  LOL.

Ultimately, in your desperation not to have to admit you were wrong, you simply dig a deeper hole for yourself.

Peace.

Report this

By troublesum, July 14, 2008 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment

“They” couldn’t possibly have made it any easier for him.  A year and a half ago no one knew who he was.  How terrible that not everyone has joined the fan club.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., July 14, 2008 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Actually, anarchists run the course from Libertarian to Communist. The term means only the absence of coercive government. That is like an oxymoron. (Oxymoron: Someone who wastes oxygen by breathing.)

Government exists to coerce someone to do what he would not otherwise do, or to not do what he has a motivation to do in exercise of free will. The end is to be more freedom on balance for the many over advantage for the few. Capitalism harnesses greed to bring the maximum production with the greatest efficiency, thus benefiting the very people who would destroy the profit motive.

It is government out of control and beyond its purpose that is the problem. Try this suit on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Ideally, government would be the smallest entity that could coerce the largest non-government entity to toe the mark of fair and honest dealing. On the individual level, it is called free enterprise, no matter what it costs. In a monopoly, it is called efficiencies of scale with the cheapest prices and the highest profits.

Anarchists have their point. Democrats seek to enlarge government to deal with corporate monsters, while Republicans seek to keep government off our backs, thus off the case of big oil and big business of all kinds. So long as the people are ‘Prince’ in a democracy, Republican Anarchists are against the Monarchy of the people, while Democratic anarchists are against the dictatorship of Fascism for special interests.

Elections are supposed to strike a balance between the interests of big government and big business while letting the profit motive bring us the most for the least, controlled by enough government to keep the beast at bay, and people playing and shopping. Behind the scenes we can fight the war for human rights, justice, equality, and fairness. Does freedom include the right to commit suicide? Is government too big when it prohibits a personal decision to end a life not worth living? Does freedom include the right to kill your children if you would rather not have them? Does the right to democratic vote include the right to vote away your rights? Is it permissible to sell oneself into limited slavery by working for less than a fair pay? Does your political donation buy votes? And if you are persuaded to vote Democratic, have you sold your soul? And if you vote Republican do you cave in to special interests?

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

tony:  Pardon my ignorance but what is the ideology of a “scientific socialist?”

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, July 14, 2008 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

Re thebeerdoctor, July 14 at 10:01 am #


“To Tony Wicher and everyone else, no I am not a dreamer of a socialist utopia (whatever that is). I just recognize that true change change comes from social movements that are not necessarily acknowledged by established political parties. When the people in this country who became aware that slavery was wrong, what kind of reaction do you thing they received upon first hearing? The same can be said of women’s suffrage. The same can be said of labor rights. No the great social movements existed long before the political parties had to consider their demands.
——————————————————————————
beer,

I agree with this. What it means to me is that polticians can’t get very far in front of the people even if they want to. That includes Barack Obama and rest of the Democrats. That is why progressives should continue to organize popular movements for change to put pressure on them, as well as to support the more progressive among them against the less progressive, in this case by supporting Obama against Mc Cain and in general Democrats against Republicans. This is all common sense to me.
—————————————————————————
“And no Tony Wicher, Howard Zinn is not a Marxist, but rather a benevolent anarchist (he himself has said this)”.

beer,

As one who calls himself a “scientific socialist” in a very broad sense, I am inclined to say anarcho-syndicalism is utopian.

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

trouble:  Obama’s health care plan benefits the insurance companies not the consumer. If he were serious about helping the working class he’d have drafted a single payer plan.

And it’s obvious by his telecom vote that he was signaling the powers that be that he’s ready to play ball with them once in office.  He certainly wasn’t worried about the dissolution of the 4th amendment and what it means to the people and our civil liberties.  But then again, he voted for the re-authorization of the patriot act as well. Those two things combined speak volumes about how he intends to govern in the future.

And now he states he wants to keep a number of troops in Iraq indefinitely while redeploying the others to Afghanistan.  Why are we still there anyway? They have no intention of finding OBL. Oh that’s right.  To help harvest the opium crops for sale in the US of A.

Honestly, he sounds so bush-like I don’t see him doing a 180 when in office.

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By troublesum, July 14, 2008 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Some of you may not remember Clinton’s “lurch to the left” as the pundits called it in his first year in office.  This was before the republicans took control of the house in the 94 elections.  It was after the failure of his (and Hillary’s) health care plan and the attempt to lift the ban on gays in the military.  The msm was in a major hissy fit and something had to be done.  It was decided that former Reagan advisor David Gergan could get the country off the road to Marxism and talk Clinton out of his delusions about a government takeover of all private property, outlawing religion, sending all cpitalists to siberia, etc.  What is Obama going to be able to do?  If there is a health care plan we can be sure it will be something that will create higher profits for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and we know that there is never going to be a complete withdrawal from Iraq.  The permenant bases have cost billions to build and there is all that oil.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2008 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

troublesum, of course it is a total fantasy. But you know what? considering the catastrophic consequences that are spoken of, I pray that I am wrong! As Homer of The Simpsons once said: “our lives hang in the balance of people no smarter than you or I.”

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By troublesum, July 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Tony’s hope that Obama will create another New Deal is a total fantasy.  Bill Clinton pronounced (before both houses of congress in one of his early SOTU speechs) the government dead as a solution to any social problems and received a standing ovation for it.  The market is now our God.  Who is going to be another Roosevelt?

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie: Well stated Anarcissie.  I always enjoy reading your posts. They are always thoughtful and spot on.

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By troublesum, July 14, 2008 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

Beerdoc,
regarding dreams of Obama supporters: are they dreams or fantasies?  I understand their supporting him and voting for him.  I would only prefer that they do it with open eyes.  The idea that once he is elected he will become a flaming progressive is laughable. What we see is what we are going to get and cyrena, Tony, ITW, ought to know that based on their knowledge of American political history.

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By Anarcissie, July 14, 2008 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

Tony: “I still think Obama may rise to the occasion and prove to be an exceptionally good president - comparable to Roosevelt, perhaps, if we are lucky. But don’t forget that Roosevelt was as blue-blooded a member of the ruling class as there could ever be. Roosevelt “saved capitalism” by making it more socialist and humanitarian. That to me is the only realistic path to socialism. But even if Obama does turn out to be another “centrist” like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, let me ask you, don’t either Jimmy or Bill look pretty good right now, in comparison with what we have?”

Sure, but my vote isn’t going to decide the election.  In terms of outcomes, it doesn’t matter who I vote for.  All I can do is stand in the voting booth and speak truth to power.  And I think that truth, everyone’s personal truth, is really important.  Part of my truth is that I won’t vote for anyone who supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq, either before or after it began, because these were and are war crimes.  I think we have to take murder seriously.  Stalin said, “If I kill one man, it’s murder.  If I kill a million men, it’s a statistic.”  I think we have to emerge from that kind of thinking.  That’s what my vote will mean.  Other people will communicate something about which candidate is a Christian, or has good taste in ties, or satisfies some calculation.  Whatever—it’s your message to history.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2008 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

To Tony Wicher and everyone else, no I am not a dreamer of a socialist utopia (whatever that is). I just recognize that true change change comes from social movements that are not necessarily acknowledged by established political parties. When the people in this country who became aware that slavery was wrong, what kind of reaction do you thing they received upon first hearing? The same can be said of women’s suffrage. The same can be said of labor rights.
No the great social movements existed long before the political parties had to consider their demands. And no Tony Wicher, Howard Zinn is not a Marxist, but rather a benevolent anarchist (he himself has said this).

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By cyrena, July 14, 2008 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Maani,

Maybe the terminology, specifically the word perfidy, is different when lawyers use it. WE know very well what it means. Maybe you should check another book.

If not, by all means, let it mean whatever you want it to mean. Like I said, most folks know EXACTLY what I’m talking about, even with no knowledge of the law.

So…if ‘you thinks’ something else…Go for it!

Meantime, to the non-trolls on board today, this is delightful news…


Oh this is good.

Congressman Goes Over Bush’s Head In Iraq To Advise Parliament

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/14/congressman-goes-over-bus_n_112564.html

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By Maani, July 14, 2008 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

Cyrena:

“Perfidy?”  Methinks you are using the wrong word. According to Webster, “perfidy” means “the quality or state of being faithless or disloyal; an act or an instance of disloyalty.”

But since I was never loyal to Obama, how can I then commit an act of disloyalty?  And if not to Obama, then to whom or what am I being disloyal?

Your command of the English language is about on par with your command of history, politics, and almost everything else.  LOL.

Peace.

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, July 14, 2008 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

Re Anarcissie, July 14 at 7:58 am #


Me: “These days, no one who has not fully and credibly signed on to the imperial project is allowed anywhere near the presidency or any other high political office where their views might count.  Obama, of course, has been found completely satisfactory in this regard.”

Cyrena: “I’m not so certain at all, that Obama has been found completely satisfactory by the ruling entity, because I’m convinced that it was never the ‘plan’ for Obama to get anywhere this close to the presidency. I think it caught the dynasties by surprise. In fact, I’m very certain of it. In short, I believe there is much more to see/understand….”

I don’t see this.  Obama seems to have come along politically through the regular channels of the Democratic Party organization.  Since he’s a charmer and probably very smart as well he’s been allowed to take very long steps, but at no time has he been an outsider.  The one big question about his viability as a national candidate was the fact that he is Black, that is, someone who would be perceived by the majority of Americans as what used to be called a “Negro” regardless of his actual ancestry and upbringing (which are actually quite different from those of most Black people).  In a way, then, he lies somewhat athwart American popular tradition, which is that the great leader must be White, male, rich, old, and a Protestant.  But I can’t think of a single instance of his being in overt opposition to the settled policies and practices of the ruling class.  Some might say “Iraq”, but there were plenty of ruling-class types who thought the invasion of Iraq was bad policy or at least highly questionable, and when Obama did get into office he voted to support the war until 2007, when the public had turned completely against it, along with many of the elites.

(One should take care, in the case of Iraq, to separate the judgement that the invasion and occupation were blunders in an otherwise good, even noble policy of world domination, and the rejection of the war as illegal and immoral instance of illegal and immoral principles.)

Obama could be seen as some sort of stealth candidate who, once in office, would surprise everyone with radical policies.  (Some people thought this about Jimmy Carter!) I think a president who did something like that would simply be removed by whatever means was necessary.  Enormous issues of power and wealth are at stake and the players aren’t going to allow an isolated joker to break up the game.  But, again, I don’t see any evidence of the stealth Obama.  I think he is right in the middle, like all the other major politicos.  I think his FISA vote—which was superfluous, practically speaking—was another signal to the ruling class that he is a man they can trust to serve their interests and intentions.

Of course, times are changing rapidly.  It’s quite possible that by the fall we will be in a grinding depression or a new major war, or both.  Maybe Obama will step forth like another Lincoln and save everything.  But if you believe this you’re operating on pure faith; you could as reasonably believe in salvation through the intervention of the unicorns of Ganymede.
——————————————————————————-
Ana,

I still think Obama may rise to the occasion and prove to be an exceptionally good president - comparable to Roosevelt, perhaps, if we are lucky. But don’t forget that Roosevelt was as blue-blooded a member of the ruling class as there could ever be. Roosevelt “saved capitalism” by making it more socialist and humanitarian. That to me is the only realistic path to socialism. But even if Obama does turn out to be another “centrist” like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton, let me ask you, don’t either Jimmy or Bill look pretty good right now, in comparison with what we have?

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, July 14, 2008 at 9:04 am Link to this comment

Re thebeerdoctor,

For Jersey Girl, troublesum, jackpine savage, etc. I think we have come to some rather grim realizations about the political process, but that is no reason to badger the Obama supporters, no matter how deluded we might think they are. Hey, it is their dream, not mine, and who the hell am I to deny anyone else’s ability to dream?
—————————————————————————-
beer,

We Obama supporters would say that we are realists and it is you who are dreaming - dreaming of a socialist utopia that will never happen and being eternally frustrated about it, whereas we, on the other hand, are doing practical work to accomplish objectives which can actually be accomplished, moving society forward by getting rid of the fascists and installing a more progressive and less oppressive administration.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 14, 2008 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Me: “These days, no one who has not fully and credibly signed on to the imperial project is allowed anywhere near the presidency or any other high political office where their views might count.  Obama, of course, has been found completely satisfactory in this regard.”

Cyrena: “I’m not so certain at all, that Obama has been found completely satisfactory by the ruling entity, because I’m convinced that it was never the ‘plan’ for Obama to get anywhere this close to the presidency. I think it caught the dynasties by surprise. In fact, I’m very certain of it. In short, I believe there is much more to see/understand….”

I don’t see this.  Obama seems to have come along politically through the regular channels of the Democratic Party organization.  Since he’s a charmer and probably very smart as well he’s been allowed to take very long steps, but at no time has he been an outsider.  The one big question about his viability as a national candidate was the fact that he is Black, that is, someone who would be perceived by the majority of Americans as what used to be called a “Negro” regardless of his actual ancestry and upbringing (which are actually quite different from those of most Black people).  In a way, then, he lies somewhat athwart American popular tradition, which is that the great leader must be White, male, rich, old, and a Protestant.  But I can’t think of a single instance of his being in overt opposition to the settled policies and practices of the ruling class.  Some might say “Iraq”, but there were plenty of ruling-class types who thought the invasion of Iraq was bad policy or at least highly questionable, and when Obama did get into office he voted to support the war until 2007, when the public had turned completely against it, along with many of the elites.

(One should take care, in the case of Iraq, to separate the judgement that the invasion and occupation were blunders in an otherwise good, even noble policy of world domination, and the rejection of the war as illegal and immoral instance of illegal and immoral principles.)

Obama could be seen as some sort of stealth candidate who, once in office, would surprise everyone with radical policies.  (Some people thought this about Jimmy Carter!)  I think a president who did something like that would simply be removed by whatever means was necessary.  Enormous issues of power and wealth are at stake and the players aren’t going to allow an isolated joker to break up the game.  But, again, I don’t see any evidence of the stealth Obama.  I think he is right in the middle, like all the other major politicos.  I think his FISA vote—which was superfluous, practically speaking—was another signal to the ruling class that he is a man they can trust to serve their interests and intentions.

Of course, times are changing rapidly.  It’s quite possible that by the fall we will be in a grinding depression or a new major war, or both.  Maybe Obama will step forth like another Lincoln and save everything.  But if you believe this you’re operating on pure faith; you could as reasonably believe in salvation through the intervention of the unicorns of Ganymede.

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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, July 14, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

By thebeerdoctor, July 14 at 3:42 am #

How someone familiar with “A Peoples History Of The United States” by Howard Zinn, could still support Barack Obama is incomprehensible.
——————————————————————————-
beerdoctor,

Zinn is a Marxist whether he calls himself one or not. The Marxist concept of class conflict is valuable, but most people who view politics through this concept are insufficiently dialectical in their thinking. There is no sharp line between “the ruling class” and “the people”. The power of the ruling class is not absolute but limited. Nor is “the ruling class” monolithic but consists of various power centers with shifting alliances. Some are more reactionary and oppressive, some are more progressive and humanitarian. As progressives we should be working together with the progressive elements of the ruling class against the reactionary ones. That, I believe, is what progressives can accomplish by supporting the Obama campaign.

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Beerdoctor:  Excellent point. Cyrena’s attitude got the best of me and had me go where I shouldn’t have gone but enough is enough.

I just want to share this article from truthout. I think it represents what many of us are feeling about the democratic nominee. And, this is the last point I’ll make on the subject.


http://www.truthout.org/


Frank:  Excellent post. Thanks.

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thebeerdoctor's avatar

By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2008 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

Frank Goodman Senior makes a very good point. A democratic republic is a continual work in progress. The founding of this country was just for wealthy white men landowners, then eventually, so-called “white trash” were allowed to vote, then blacks, women and aboriginals (as they saw in Australia, or first nation).
For Jersey Girl, troublesum, jackpine savage, etc. I think we have come to some rather grim realizations about the political process, but that is no reason to badger the Obama supporters, no matter how deluded we might think they are. Hey, it is their dream, not mine, and who the hell am I to deny anyone else’s ability to dream?
As I have said, ad nauseum, peace is a living action and that social movement operates outside the confines of any political party. So when it is a matter of peace advocacy, the candidates will always be hauled on the mat.
As for the rest of it, we all should think for ourselves but recognize that none of us has a monopoly on the truth.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., July 14, 2008 at 6:42 am Link to this comment

Re: cyrena, July 14 at 3:14 am #

Jersey Girl may want to venture a Native America amalgam of the United Tribes of America had the white Europeans not brought their more advanced ideas of superiority to these shores. Had the red men done that, maybe they would not have granted White Europeans and Black Africans and Yellow Asians, citizenship. They may have put us on reservations where we could fight each other to the death.

The miracle of America is not in our White, Christian, European civilization, but in our trend toward equality, justice, and unity. Politics prevented the realization of the dream of the Declaration of Independence, but we have evolved in a way that is a wonder of politics world wide.

Cerena, you may want to examine your premises more carefully. Western Civilization as an evolution of the will of the people over the power of the tyrants, has moved the Native American to legal citizenship by 1924. Note that now the trend of civil rights in the World states is toward full citizenship rights for women, aborigines, immigrants, and marginal people everywhere. There is a long way to go, even in America, but we are on the way. Nobody would have dreamed 50 years ago that ‘gay’ rights would be in the forefront of civic sense in America. Not only have gays come out of the closet—blacks, Native Americans, and many poor people now have closets of their own to go into if they want to hide from prying neighbors and police state thugs.

At any time one can see signs of regression, but if you cannot see signs of progress, maybe you should see your political optometrist. I am the first in my family line to embrace equality and civil rights for all people everywhere. I like to include myself in the civil rights movement, though I have resisted certain trends in ‘rights’, when it seemed that more harm would be done than rights recognized. The letter of the law can be smudged, purposely, for devious mischief. But, overall we have made progress. I challenge anyone to look critically at civil rights CA 1776 and compare with civil rights 2008. The trend continues to move other nations slowly toward the goal of equality, freedom, and justice.

We can moan over the dead bodies denied, or cringe at the tyrants on the move, but we cannot give up the fight for justice even if we have to swallow hard on the quid we have to chew. Washingtons, Lincolns, and Roosevelts are rare. Democrats should not keep Andrew Jackson (See Trail of Tears) on our roles of heroes. Right now my money is on Barack Obama, though I see his flaws more clearly than I see my own.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 14, 2008 at 4:42 am Link to this comment

How someone familiar with “A Peoples History Of The United States” by Howard Zinn, could still support Barack Obama is incomprehensible.

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By cyrena, July 14, 2008 at 4:14 am Link to this comment

“.. Your defeatists if you say it’s impossible. If our founding fathers thought the way most democratic supporters think today, there would be no united states of america.  Those men were brave enough to break from the status quo and do something DIFFERENT…”

~~~

No Jersey Girl…WRONG AGAIN! The so-called ‘founding fathers were the original globalists, imperialists, and the STATUS QUO. And, that’s the bottom line. This so-called US of America was arranged based on the genocide/massacre of well over a million Native Americans who’d lived here long before.

And, it has CONTINUED SINCE THAT TIME. The USA has been the ‘ultimate agressor’ for Centuries now, so drop the bullshit talking points, because you’re not talking to dummies here.

It’s just more of your ‘creative writing’ and revisionist history, probably because you never learned the real truth to begin with.

What you’re peddling here is the STATUS QUO of the imperialists. Try actually reading some REAL information.

Start with Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History.” It might be challenging, but it’ll still help. Just stick with it, even if it hurts your brain.

Right now, you’re coming across loud and clear as a novice troll who’s been sucked up by the oh so sly wolf. The perfidy of Maani knows no bounds.

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By Kitch, July 14, 2008 at 3:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Stop with the commiserating this middle of the road thing and wake up.  The FISA bill exposed just how many in the Senate are either completely spineless, corrupt or just stupid.  This bill should have us all lined up at our representatives doors demanding our vote back. They are raping the Constitution and we are standing around witching like the Germans when Hitler implemented his ” final solution”.  And yes you guy Obama voted for the bill to pass too.  Nothing middle of the road about that.

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By jersey girl, July 14, 2008 at 3:04 am Link to this comment

trouble: Thanks for the link.  Very revealing piece. Obama is to rezko what bush is to abramoff. It’s never good to lie about your connections to criminals.  The truth always comes out in the end.

So, now it’s in black and white, he is a man who is willing to do anything to get elected.  Another slick politician.  Who woulda thunk it?

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By Maani, July 13, 2008 at 9:15 pm Link to this comment

troublesum:

Thanks for the NYer link.  Fascinating.  It should be required reading for Cyrena…LOL.

A few things about it that stick.  The Alice Palmer story.  (Forcing everyone but himself off the ticket so he could run unopposed.)  The Rezko truths, including that Rezko was an early sponsor, that they spent lots of time together, even spending time at Rezko’s summer retreat.  (This is the same person whom Obama referred to as “that man” during the SC debate, claiming that his “only connection” to “that man” was “5 hours” spent as a “junion attorney” on “one case.”  So much for Obama’s honesty.)  The fact that Obama had his district re-districted to specifically include Rezko’s ongoing projects.

And this little ditty:

“He campaigns on reforming a broken political process, yet he has always played politics by the rules as they exist, not as he would like them to exist. He runs as an outsider, but he has succeeded by mastering the inside game. He is ideologically a man of the left, but at times he has been genuinely deferential to core philosophical insights of the right.”

But then, those of us who did not see him through Barack-tinted spectacles knew much of this already.

Peace.

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By Tony Wicher, July 13, 2008 at 8:30 pm Link to this comment

By jersey girl, July 13 at 2:59 pm #

Those of us not caught up in Obama’s sparkling smile like deer in the headlights have already figured this out.
——————————————————————————-
jg,

You should be an op-ed writer for them. Sounds like you’re on the same wavelength.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 13, 2008 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

Thank you troublesum for linking to the New Yorker article on Senator Obama. I must say I was not all that surprised, for whatever he is not, one thing he is, a brilliant politician. The late artists Robert Rauschenberg said: “politics is people”, and the kind of heavy duty networking that Barack Obama has performed reveals an ambitious buppie of the first order, ready to take command by any means necessary!
Of course as you are well aware, as a frequent participant on this site, it is difficult for his cadre of true believers to grasp that much of their faith in him is simply their projections.
Which is not to say he could surprise everyone, but that too is a rather silly projection. The people who give him the most money decide his agenda.
Perhaps that is why Senator Clinton lost the primary elections. Too many years in Washington. Too many years in Arkansas. She should have remembered her Chicago roots, where the practice of politics is the meanest game in town. Thank you again.

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By Jerry Slunder, July 13, 2008 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think it is often difficult to decide which candidate is best and with the news media taking sides, it makes the matter even more difficult.  The great thing about our country is that it will be based on what the people decide (we hope).  Either candidate will have a very difficult time changing things around.  I believe both men are good Christians and for people to attack and claim Obama or anyone else is not a Christian and claim he is a muslim in order to associate them to the fears of others is deceiving and something we need to think about before we vote.  People playing on the fears of others would be a clear sign of someone not to vote for, in my opinion.  When we can be honest and open in our government, this will be the best for the people in America and the world.  I don’t understand that we in a nation that claims to be Christian can turn around on the words of Christ and kill others or cause harm to others without being attacked first.  The bible made it clear that we should love our enemies, and not kill.  I think we could learn much from the life of Jesus Christ if we only apply it to our daily lives.  I am not pushing religion, but only the teachings of peace. Nothing wrong with peace.

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By troublesum, July 13, 2008 at 5:08 pm Link to this comment

“Slick Willie” in Chicago: how Obama learned to play the old politics, evolved into a clone of Clinton and beat the Clintons at their own game. http://www.thenewyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza  I don’t know what Obama means by “new politics.”  He looks pretty transparent in this article; nothing hidden.  People across the country know nothing about him and are simply projecting on him their own hopes and wishes.  The stores where I usually buy the New Yorker were sold out on this issue as soon as it came in.  People are desperate to find out who the hell he is.

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By jersey girl, July 13, 2008 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Calibpatriot:  Apparently he has closed the deal for the wall street journal:

“No one has followed Obama’s rightward drift with greater interest and bemusement than the editors of the Wall Street Journal. They have faithfully chronicled all the vacillating, obfuscating and backpedaling and they’ve made up their minds; Obama is marching straight towards the welcoming arms of the Republican Party. That’s right; he’s gradually embracing the conservative platform and abandoning any pretense of liberalism. Two weeks ago the WSJ ran an editorial that summarized Obama’s metamorphosis in an article titled “Bush’s Third Term”

Those of us not caught up in Obama’s sparkling smile like deer in the headlights have already figured this out.

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By calibpatriot, July 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As far as I’m concerned Obama still hasn’t closed the deal.  I would certainly agree that Obama is very skilled at making a political pitch but much more than that is necessary to accomplish a meaningful presidency.  I’ve learned, long ago, to be wary of smooth-talkers. 

I frankly don’t know where he is on some of the basic issues that affect so many of us.  Obama has tried to rationalize his shocking reversal regarding his voting for the FISA bill but I’m completely unconvinced.  Talk is cheap, what we need is less talk and more action.

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By cyrena, July 13, 2008 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie

•  “…you will find that the U.S. ruling class decided on a policy of interventionism, imperialism and world domination back in the 1940s, with as much war, terror and repression as necessary to ensure success…”

Anarcissie,

Thanks so much for the excellent response post. I very much appreciate it. On this portion of it, I certainly agree, and while I’ve not read the book that you recommend, the truth of what you put forth here is certainly contained in numerous others that I have studied. There was a time at an earlier point in my education, when I believed that the last ‘legitimate’ war that the US was involved in was WWII. Now I’m inclined to see it as a policy of interventionism, and probably the beginnings at least, of imperialism and world domination.

Then again, it’s no secret that I believe the West to have been involved in such policies long before that. In short, what is called the “US” was formed on a policy of interventionism, imperialism, and world domination, from the moment the first settler, set foot on our North American Continent. The wars and imperialism haven’t stopped since, and those so-called ‘founders’ of the US have been the instigators of them all.

That said, I agree with your assessment that the Bushes are not unique, nor are the Clintons. And yes, I DO recall Madeline Albright’s despicable claim, as well as Clinton’s war mongering and unilateral interventionism in the former Yugoslavia. That was prompted by as much treachery and deceit as the current and previous adventures of the bush regimes in the Middle East.  The only difference in the Clintons, (or at least William) is that his dynasty roots aren’t quite as deep. Clinton did not have the fortunes amassed in the manner that the Bushes have, going back as far as their European connections to the Hitler regime and the capital that supported it. That is less true for his wife.

But, back to the 1940’s when it kicked in full swing. I’d recommend the work of Hannah Arendt, specifically her “Origins of Totalitarianism”. The ideology of world domination as a goal is well covered there, though she does make a very careful caution about distinguishing Totalitarianism from other forms of Authoritarianism, such as Fascism and various forms of dictatorship. It’s an important distinction, because even Bush I and Clinton were *not* the Authoritarians that the Bush/Cheney regime has become. I didn’t like Bush I at all, but he certainly did not initiate what has become so very close, (closer than we’ve ever been and getting closer) to the fascism that we’ve come to experience under this regime.

My own opinion is that it’s simply too soon to put Obama in any of these categories, and/or to make the same connections. That is of course my own opinion, and clearly at odds with most folks who already have.

For instance, on this:

•  “These days, no one who has not fully and credibly signed on to the imperial project is allowed anywhere near the presidency or any other high political office where their views might count.  Obama, of course, has been found completely satisfactory in this regard.”

I’m not so certain at all, that Obama has been found completely satisfactory by the ruling entity, because I’m convinced that it was never the ‘plan’ for Obama to get anywhere this close to the presidency. I think it caught the dynasties by surprise. In fact, I’m very certain of it. In short, I believe there is much more to see/understand about who Barack Obama is and what he is about, but most don’t. It may be too obvious, and therefore easily missed by anyone examining the trees too intently to see the forest. I could make some parallels/analogies to similar circumstances, but they would most certainly be taken out of context, so I’m gonna pass for the moment on that.

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By Maani, July 13, 2008 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Tony:

You said, “And how does the fact that large numbers of young people have registered and have become politically active because they believe in Obama square with this statement?”

You’re smarter than that.  It is those (in both parties) who are NOT newly registered voters who are moving away from their parties.  So depending on how many that is, it could offset (possibly to a large degree) the number of newly registered voters.  As well, even many of the newly registered voters may, despite having become politically active because they believe in Obama (or Clinton or McCain, for that matter), eventually “defect” because they don’t like where their candidate is going.

Jersey Girl’s point is thus well taken here.  And although it is obviously highly unlikely that Nader or McKinney (or Barr or any other third party candidate) has any “chance” of winning, as JG, myself and others have said, it is not about “chances,” it is about voting one’s conscience no matter what the consequences may be.  Because, as has also been said, if Obama loses, he will have no one but himself to blame.

Peace.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., July 13, 2008 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

RE: jersey girl, July 13 at 7:18 am #

Thanks!

http://home.comcast.net/~fdgsr/Beginning.htm

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By jersey girl, July 13, 2008 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Frank:  That’s beautiful.  Thank you for the lovely and quite meaningful poetry smile

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., July 13, 2008 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

Re: cyrena, July 12 at 9:18 pm

“Negotiation with the wind”?

FREE WILL

    The racing water rushes to the sea—a restless power yearning to be free.  But a roaring river committed to the fall really hasn’t any choice at all.

    The tranquil pond that ripples in the breeze is often subject to a freeze.  And water held behind a wall really hasn’t any choice at all.

      The cloudy mist above the earth wafted by the wind in mindless mirth, or battered by a sudden squall, really hasn’t any choice at all.

      So, don’t be like the water in the fall; don’t let yourself be dammed behind a wall.  You may have to fight against the wind, or risk your life, your freedom to defend.

      Don’t, for the substance of your life, depend on what some other people send.  You could take a better path today, or go astray—you have a choice—so choose the way!

Frank Goodman The Senior
Copyright © 1988-2008

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By thebeerdoctor, July 13, 2008 at 7:33 am Link to this comment

I have never been opposed to change. What some call change is not change at all. In fact they just want a new boss they can worship. True change is a change of consciousness. A consciousness that will enable you to see your fellow human beings as just that, and the thought of denying their liberty which is living, in the name of some abstract process you call good government, will be seen for what it is. A change of consciousness that will disavow the glib relativism of violence, whether it is John McCain’s boom bomb Iran, or Barack Obama’s wish to “provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power”.
You who participate in this election should rejoice. You can help decide who gets to be in charge of the next round of killings. Peace is a living action, and social movement that will never be dependent on these ridiculous political parties.

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By Anarcissie, July 13, 2008 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

cyrena: “I have a difficult time overlooking any of it, since the corruption, unfair taxes, payoffs to big capitalists, and all of the rest is exactly what has led to the worst. The slaughtering of harmless people for the economic gain of a few.

What I’m wondering then, is how you seemingly wait so long to draw your line, (since this stuff has been going on for decades if not centuries) and how you connect Obama to these policies? “

I drew my line a long time ago.  I was about as active against Clinton’s warmongering as both of the Bushes’.  As you may recall, Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was asked about the assertion that Clinton’s various operations against Iraq had led to the deaths of 500,000 children.  Albright’s response?  “We think it is worth it.”  That admission was as worthy of prosecution under the charter of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal as anything George W. Bush has done.  But of course nothing will ever be done about it, any more than the people in the Bush administration who are guilty of war crimes will be arraigned and tried.

But the Bushes and Clinton are hardly unique.  If you read some history—I recommend Dean Atcheson’s _Present_At_The_Creation_ for a start—you will find that the U.S. ruling class decided on a policy of interventionism, imperialism and world domination back in the 1940s, with as much war, terror and repression as necessary to ensure success.  Their attitude was “Someone’s got to do it, and we’re the nicest guys around, so it’s got to be us.”  There were still a few Republican holdouts against this view in the 1950s, but that was the end of the non-marginal resistance.  Even Barry Goldwater wanted to “lob one into the men’s room of the Kremlin.”  These days, no one who has not fully and credibly signed on to the imperial project is allowed anywhere near the presidency or any other high political office where their views might count.  Obama, of course, has been found completely satisfactory in this regard.  It was pretty odd to see him presented as an anti-war candidate, although I guess it was no odder than it was with Kerry four years ago.

I am not sure (or at least, I’m not as sure as Lenin was) about the connection of capitalism, corrupt or not, to imperialism.  Capitalism has always required a strong state to thrive, and the logic of the state leads directly to imperialism, so I suppose there is some theoretical justification for that view.  There are arguments on the other side as well.  I tend to think we could have capitalism without imperialism, but it would require a different public sensibility—one in which murder, terror and torture were deemed definitely not all right even when practiced on swarthy foreigners.  If I could convince people of that, I think it would lead to revolutionary change.  But so far it’s been mostly spitting into the wind.

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By jersey girl, July 13, 2008 at 5:03 am Link to this comment

maani: Thanks for the kind words. Let’s make it happen shall we? (the revolution, not the marriage..I don’t think my b/f would approve..lol)

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By jersey girl, July 13, 2008 at 4:52 am Link to this comment

Tony:
“And how does the fact that large numbers of young people have registered and have become politically active because they believe in Obama square with this statement?”

For starters Tony, you’re right in saying that many young people “believe” in Obama.  They are following him strictly because of his charismatic personality.  They certainly have nothing concrete to support him on.  Especially with his latest statements that prove him to be nothing about change and all about keeping the status quo. Bush’s status quo.  But then, one can’t be too hard on them, there are young people who believe in santa and the easter bunny too. Seriously though,  I think many of those younger voters who are really paying attention to what he’s saying and not all caught up in the “cult of obama” are getting quite disillusioned.  You just have to check out various blogs and comments left on youtube to know that.  I wonder what kind of young cult following McCain has? Where are all the republican kids going that are fed up with bush? Oh right, Ron Paul.  So there’s that group of very enthusiastic voters too.  In fact, many dems & independents favor him as well. (I personally could never support him but he does have a huge following.)

And lets talk about Obama and his support.  How much money has he received from investment bankers, and the health care, telecom and nuclear power industry? Who stands behind him? The guy has spent millions on his campaign and we’re only into mid july.  His face is all over our tv screens and magazines and the talking heads are always discussing him.  He does indeed have a cult like following because he has been projected forward and built up by the main sream media.  Tv is the only way you get many voters to pay attention, isnt it?  So, Obama has had all the benefits any candidate can possibly be awarded. No wonder he’s got a large following, especially compared to mr. walking death mccain.

Yet, with Obama having every possible perk of a campaign allotted to him, Ralph Nader has still garnered, having spent very little money and with very little airtime, 6% of the vote already.  If he gets that magical number of 10%, he will be able to debate Osame and McInsane in the google debates. You can laugh, saying that’s a small number but not when you consider the constant face time and money spent of the other candidates.  If Nader gets a chance to debate then you will see who the serious candidate for the people is.  Nader also has a huge number of young followers, mostly garnered from the internet as does Cynthia McKinney of the green party.

Obama is showing his true self to the voters, young and old and in between.  He pretends to be all things to all people.  His tune changes with each group he is speaking in front of.  If that’s what you and the young people of america want for a leader well, go for it.  As for me, no way.  I want REAL change. And I want a REAL leader. I’m working to make that happen on my end.  This can happen nothing short of a revolution and that can start with showing the dirty dems and republicans at the voting booth that there are large numbers of us who are tired of the political shell game and phony candidates.

So to sum it up, I think many people will be voting outside their former political parties this time around in larger numbers than our country has ever seen before.  Whether it’s for Nader, McKinney, Ron Paul or the other 3rd party candidates.  I’m working hard to make that happen. 

The rest of you can join the “revolution” or you can continue to make excuses for and vote for a man who has given away your right to privacy with his vote that gave Herr Bush exactly what he wanted.

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By cyrena, July 13, 2008 at 2:24 am Link to this comment

Well Beerdoc,

Nice summary of the US history of war, since space is limited, and therefore could not include ALL of it.

It’s certainly not NEW information, but can obviously provide a look at previous and current trends.

I reject your particular ‘absolute’ predictions though. Such predictions speak to an arrogance, even though it is of a defeatist flavor. It goes with your determination to prevent change. As long as you can say that it is impossible, (even in your own mind) you’ve ‘concluded’ that it can’t happen.

That’s an unalterable contradiction, because the fact is that change DOES happen, whether you want it to or not. Directing the nature of it, or navigating the elements of it takes some guts, and for many people, it’s easier to just say that ‘they’ won’t let us.

For them, there will always be one reason or another, why change cannot take place, even as it does.

Go figure.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 13, 2008 at 1:49 am Link to this comment

Re: Iraq Withdrawal
It is not just supporters of Senate Obama, it is the entire American political system. American commitment to dubious projects remains steadfast, despite disastrous consequences. President Truman used the greatest terrorist weapon the world had ever seen because having to answer for spending all that money on The Manhattan Project and not using it, would have been political suicide. The same can be said of the so-called war in Vietnam, from Lyndon Johnson’s desire to not be the first U.S. President to lose a war, to Richard Nixon’s peace with honor. One thing is certain, whoever becomes the next president: there will be no withdrawal from Iraq. The re-corporatization of that country’s resource is already in progress. Congressional language such as H.J. Res. 362, which is essentially a neo-declaration of war with Iran, assures that there will be many boots on the ground, planes in the air, to protect the giant emerald city embassy and our strategic partners in the petroleum industry.

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By cyrena, July 12, 2008 at 11:16 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie

I could overlook corruption, unfair taxes, payoffs to big capitalists, and the usual surfeit of lies, sententiousness and sanctimony we get from politicos, but I can’t overlook slaughtering harmless people for the sake of transitory political expediency and economic gain.  Everyone has to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I draw mine.

~~~
I have a difficult time overlooking any of it, since the corruption, unfair taxes, payoffs to big capitalists, and all of the rest is exactly what has led to the worst. The slaughtering of harmless people for the economic gain of a few.

What I’m wondering then, is how you seemingly wait so long to draw your line, (since this stuff has been going on for decades if not centuries) and how you connect Obama to these policies?

Thanks for the link to Menard’s piece I’d read it long ago, but it is certainly worth a repeat. It is yet another theoretical analysis, and certainly worth considering and contemplating.

As an aside, (and yes, another repeat, at least for me in reference to these forums)…there is no agreed upon definition of right/left/conservative/liberal. Nor are there political parties that attach themselves or can otherwise be defined by these terms. Not now, and it’s been that way for a very long time.

Rather, what our body politic has represented over the past decades is center to radical. There are varying degrees between the center and the radical, and our current administration is the most radical/extreme as we’ve seen in several lifetimes/decades. Practically and realistically speaking, the center is always the most effective place from which to conduct any effective operation. That’s what the nucleus of science is. Societies generally form themselves around a center. It’s a concept as old as dirt. It has its negative effects when things go wrong, and the balance is disrupted, or the periphery is cut off and then lost.

Now one could argue that it is NOT the ‘center’ but rather the ‘foundation’ that keeps the whole alive, such as Tony mentioned in the pyramid analogy of the ancient Egyptians, where we can equate the larger society at the bottom, (as the foundation) but still wind up with a ruling class at the tiny top. In that analogy, it is difficult to understand how that tiny portion at the top, can manage to hold power over the stronger foundation. Theoretically, it would seem that the tiny point at the top of the pyramid would be far more exposed to destruction than the foundation.  But that hasn’t happened, if we use that as the analogy for how we are politically structured now, in what is and has basically always been, a top down control.

Just some things to ponder, but the most important thing is that mixing these analogies isn’t an easy thing, nor is it for armatures. It’s for thinkers, and as you, Menard, and several others have indicated, most Americans don’t.

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By cyrena, July 12, 2008 at 10:18 pm Link to this comment

Re: Frank Goodman Sr.

Your post # 168769 says it all and the this sums it up quite eloquently

•  “To correct course is not waffling, but flat out honesty. The captain has to ride out a calm and steer into the wind, while using the sails to move forward. The rare sailor can move forward against the wind. “

I would add a deftness and flexibility to the absolute requirements for any captain of any ship. One must use the sails to negotiate with the winds. Unless there is that constant adjustment is at work, at best the entire ship flounders without any motion whatsoever, eventually begins to take on water and inevitably sinks, hopefully after everyone has had time to make it to safety. At worst, the whole thing crashes, king everyone with it.

Flat out honesty, (which I frequently reference as reality or realism) is ALWAYS the more difficult but only effective choice.

~~~

Beer doctor..

This is the truth that no Obama supporter can answer. How is the United States going to withdraw from Iraq when it has already spent over $1 billion on building the infamous Baghdad embassy, known as “the city within the city”. Combine this with the air bases being constructed across Iraq, what would a President Obama do, just abandon them? Of course not.

I disagree that no Obama supporter can answer this question, though I agree with the reality of it. How are we to withdraw after all of this stuff that only some of you seem to be noticing now, as opposed to when it was being accomplished. How indeed?

Well, I’ve answered this question many times. We just DO it. It’s been my own suggestion since long before it became a reality. Just LEAVE Iraq. But that Embassy and all of those bases continued to be constructed anyway. Guess nobody much cared at the time, besides that handful of us shouting into the wind. Those bases aren’t ‘being constructed’…THEY ARE CONSTRUCTED.

The torture, the violation of the Geneva Conventions has been on-going for nearly 8 years. Can an “Obama supporter” suggest (as I have for 8 years, which is long before Obama became a candidate in need of constituent support) that the US should stop violating the laws and committing crimes against humanity? Of course I can. Am I consoled by the fact that Obama has long ago addressed said the same thing, at the very beginning of his candidacy? Such as when he made it clear that “Torture is NEVER acceptable” or that the US would NOT have permanent military bases in Iraq in his presidency? Yes. I am. I believe him when he says those things.

And how are we to leave Iraq, and all of that blood and money spent there? We just do. How and how soon an Obama administration would accomplish that is the part that Obama supporters cannot answer, in part because even he cannot answer that, until he has a full compliment of information, and can continue to measure facts on the ground, as well as the will and wishes of the Iraqis. No, we cannot provide the logistical answers to how this should be accomplished. At least I can’t. Maybe you could do better.

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By Tony Wicher, July 12, 2008 at 9:36 pm Link to this comment

Re jersey girl, July 12 at 7:56 am #

Well, at least we can take comfort in the fact that the numbers of people disenchanted with the mainstream political parties is growing.
——————————————————————————-
jg,

And how does the fact that large numbers of young people have registered and have become politically active because they believe in Obama square with this statement?

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By Anarcissie, July 12, 2008 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

In regard to ideology and voting, there is an article worth reading in the on-line New Yorker: Louis Menand’s “The Unpolitical Animal”, which appeared during the 2004 election.  URL: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/08/30/040830crat_atlarge

One of the things Menand points out is that only a small portion of the electorate vote according to ideology, principle, policy, or the records and characters of the candidates.  Many hypotheses and conclusions can be drawn from the scientific evidence; one is that most people don’t think coherently about such matters.

That being the case, there does not seem to be any way of positively identifying Americans as rightists, or on the other hand of talking about potential, presumably leftish, revolution.  When questioned, most people display a hodgepodge of beliefs, often conflicting with one another.  In fact, as Menand notes, they often entertain directly contradictory beliefs about the same subject.  And, as the Obama phenomenon shows, they are certainly willing to hope and believe where there is little or no evidence.

Under these circumstances, it does not look to me as if large elections are going to accomplish anything positive.  They might sometimes give us a lesser evil, or inhibit a greater one.  Beyond that, I think one must, as Gandhi or one of them said, “Become the change you want to see in the world” and work with individuals and small groups to plant and cultivate relationships and institutions which are non-violent, non-dominating alternatives to the ones we are now subjected to.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, July 12, 2008 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The vast majority of Americans are NOT in the political center; they are to the right.  Just as there is no longer any such thing as the common good, there is no longer any such thing as a political center.  There is only right and farther right.

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By Tony Wicher, July 12, 2008 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

troublesum,

This much seems to me common sense: Now is not the time to attack Obama. Now is the time to crush the Repiglicans. After the election we can attack him and push our agendas all we want. At this time his election should be our common objective.
The way I see it there is a struggle among the powers that be and we want to back the more progressive ones against the more reactionary ones. Dennis Kucinich was unable to get enough power back of him to succeed in his run for president - both not enough support from the ruling class, and not enough popular support either. His gallant effort was somewhat ahead of his time. Nevertheless I hope he will gain influence in an Obama administration as Democrats in general start to feel that the people are strongly behind them and lose their fear of political retaliation, and that he might even succeed in prosecuting members of the Bush adminstration for war crimes. If that happens, Dennis belongs on Mt. Rushmore as far as I’m concerned.

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By Maani, July 12, 2008 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Jersey Girl:

Your July 12, 5:37 am post should be required reading not just for the seemingly brainwashed Obamabots, but for everyone, particular students of American history.  It is among the most succinct and perfect assessments of the situation that I have read thus far on any thread on TD - or, for that matter, almost anywhere.

Two comments bear repeating:

“What they [staunch Obama supporters] fail to realize is that we could start a HUGE but bloodless revolution at the voting box in november by voting OUTSIDE THE PARTY. Republicans are disgusted with their party as well.  Imagine if they voted for the libertarian or the constitutionalist instead of McInsane?”

“Your defeatists if you say it’s impossible. If our founding fathers thought the way most democratic supporters think today, there would be no united states of america…How about you dig out that programming chip and think outside the box and work to defeat the one party system that has not served you well at all.”

Brava!  I think I want to marry you…LOL.

Peace.

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By troublesum, July 12, 2008 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

We’re allowed choices at the mall, not in the voting booth.

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By troublesum, July 12, 2008 at 1:54 pm Link to this comment

In a nation of 325 million people there should be ten major candidates running for president.  In this particular race Obama and McCain would be identified as unabashed corportate candidates.  There would also be liberals, traditional conservatives,  libertarians, socialists, marxists, environmentalist - green cadidates.  But that would be democracy and we can’t have that.  These other parties now have token candidates because they have been written off by the powers that be.

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By Frank Goodman, Sr., July 12, 2008 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

Much is written on the tendency for American politics to drift toward the middle. After each political party deals with it, the issue is again attacked in a general election where it is attacked again with only two representatives of the great middle and a few marginal misfits to define the extremes. Ideally the average voter does not know anything and votes like a toss of the coin with a zero sum. Enough knowing voters are supposed to make the right choice. It does not always work that way, but it is the best process we can come up with to elect a leader of 300,000,000 people in our camp.

Not only is each major party candidate motivated to influence his constituencies, but each candidate is influenced by his constituencies. An ear to the wind and another to the ground is good politics, even if not good sense. I do not know of any politician who got elected because of any sense other than the ability to tune his campaign to the windy issues and the earthy issues.

I have never voted in my life for any candidate who represented perfectly to a letter my own political preferences. I never found one and have never read of one. I find value in a candidate who is deft enough to recognize, when he is going against the majority without enough power in his delivery to bring them to his side, to modify his own delivery on the issues. To correct course is not waffling, but flat out honesty. The captain has to ride out a calm and steer into the wind, while using the sails to move forward. The rare sailor can move forward against the wind.

In fact, it is my fervent hope that Obama is enough of a statesman to abandon enough pure political nonsense to change his position on some real issues after the election. If not, there will be another election and other candidates. Obama cannot lead without seeming to follow his electorate. Only a certain amount of personal loyalty is tolerable. Ask Rev. Wright.

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By Tony Wicher, July 12, 2008 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment

So, yes, we have always had a ruling class, but that does not mean we cannot also have effective democratic safeguards to prevent or ameliorate abuses of power. The U.S. Constitution, which though it starts “we the people”, was in fact written by members of the post-revolutionary U.S. ruling class in the name of “the people”, that is by property owners, including slave owners, and by men whose social position afforded the opportunity for leisure and intellectual development, is still a historic accomplishment. Class conflict is also a matter of degree. An absolutely classless society is the same thing as an absolutely just society, and this is an abstraction, or if you like a Platonic ideal or form which does not exist in the real world, yet it is indeed that absolute measure by which we judge the worth of every society on this planet, and on which we ultimately must base all our political actions.

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By Tony Wicher, July 12, 2008 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Re Outraged, July 11 at 11:28 pm #
Re: Tony Wicher

Your quote: “My understanding is that the “ruling class” is not monolithic but consists of competing interests. I would say that the most sinister elements of the ruling class have taken political control in this country.”

Your first assertion is absolutely accurate. I’ve read, investigated and attempted to make sense of the whole “sha-bang”.  And I would wholeheartedly agree.  However, your next assertion…well…I think is telling.  To say that “the most sinister elements of the ruling class” have done this, that or the other thing, is in fact, ASSERTING that we have “a ruling class”.  Where I take issue with this (BTW, I agree) is that we have “a ruling class” AT ALL.
 
Is it possible to have A DEMOCRACY and yet a “ruling class”?  What in actuality you are saying is that; we could have a “good king” or a “bad king”.  And that we’d be “lucky” to have a “good king”. (at least, that what it appears your claiming, correct me if I’m wrong)

Is this OK, or should demand the OWNERSHIP of our country BACK….?  The Constitution says: WE THE PEOPLE, it doesn’t say and IF WE HAVE A “GOOD KING”.

——————————————————————————-
——————————————————————————
Outraged,

Wow, great post! I love this kind of theoretical discussion! Your question is whether the existence of a ruling class is incompatible with democracy.
My short answer is that both “the ruling class” and “democracy” are matters of degree. Since the days of ancient Egypt society has had a pyramidal structure and it is hard to imagine any organized society which does not. The “ruling class” is the top of the pyramid, although there is no definite level to draw a sharp line between those who are members of the “ruling class” and who are members of “the people”. Rulers and ruled always had common as well as diverging interests. Now as Plato says, the true function of a ruler, a just ruler, is to benefit the ruled, that is society as a whole. If rulers were always just as in Plato’s ideal state there would be no need for democracy. Democracy creates a power feedback mechanism that benefits society by providing a way to remove unjust rulers, which is to say, those who do not use their power in ways that benefit society. How well this feedback mechanism works depends on all sorts of factors. Plato didn’t think much of it, because he saw how easily the people are persuaded and deceived and misled by the rhetoric and propaganda of those seeking power.  In ancient Athens the people were misled by these demagogues to put the greatest among them, Socrates, to death and so they destroyed their civilization. Now we have Fox News. Has anything much really changed?

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By Diggins, July 12, 2008 at 10:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama gave an anti-war speech in front of an anti-war crowd.

Truthdig?  You need to correct your copy.

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By Anarcissie, July 12, 2008 at 9:09 am Link to this comment

Tony Wicher: “My understanding is that the “ruling class” is not monolithic but consists of competing interests. I would say that the most sinister elements of the ruling class have taken political control in this country. Obama represents the liberal end of the ruling class….”

Actually, I’d say Obama is more a middle-of-the-road opportunist, actually rather conservative on the stuff I’ve seen so far.  But, regardless, you’re taking the “lesser of two evils” approach which I think is valid as long as the lesser evil isn’t too evil.  In this case, I think the lesser evil is still beyond the pale.  I could overlook corruption, unfair taxes, payoffs to big capitalists, and the usual surfeit of lies, sententiousness and sanctimony we get from politicos, but I can’t overlook slaughtering harmless people for the sake of transitory political expediency and economic gain.  Everyone has to draw the line somewhere and that’s where I draw mine.

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By jersey girl, July 12, 2008 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

scott, beer: Shhhhh…. cyrena is listening..

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By jersey girl, July 12, 2008 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

anarcissie: I am part of that group that refuses to be part of the one party system as well. I will vote as a protest against it.  Though, like you, I don’t believe it matters. The corruption is so complete and devastating that nothing will change how our country is governed short of revolution.

Americans, as a whole, are very disgruntled with
our government.  I think that’s why so many have latched on to Obama because he projects “hope” in their eyes. False as it is, they are clinging to it thinking he will make things right as president.  How could he? Why would he? He’s given no such indication by his very own words.  But they aren’t listening.  All they hear is what they want to hear.

Well, at least we can take comfort in the fact that the numbers of people disenchanted with the mainstream political parties is growing.  The time to make that known to the powers that be is now. The nwo is positioned and ready to pounce for their final takeover. They are so close to enforcing a total police state. Our only hope is that there are more of us than them. We have to unite as free citizens.  It’s time to stand up and be counted as part of the “people’s new world order.”  We can’t do that staying within the confines of their political system.

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By Anarcissie, July 12, 2008 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

By jersey girl, July 11 at 5:24 pm: “Well what’s a leftie to do?  What do you intend to do?”

Depends on the leftie, I guess.  I think my first duty is to try to stop the present killing, which is after all a set of war crimes by the standards of the charter of the Nuremberg Tribunals, but I can’t do that by voting for, giving money to, or doing work for either of the mainstream candidates, both of whom explicitly support the principle of unilateral interventionism and, in general, the U.S. running the world by any means necessary, including war.  (Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq, but only because it was, as he said, “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time”; he made it plain that he favors the “right” wars in the “right” places at the “right” times.)  As far as the election goes, then, I will vote for an anti-war candidate, myself, if necessary.  The vote doesn’t matter very much; it will not decide the election, but it will leave a perhaps trivial mark on history, a note that said at least one person didn’t subscribe to the war machine.  In any case, I will not attach myself to the murder, terror, torture, mutilation, imprisonment, enslavement and repression which have become the daily bread of our established order by voting for any of its representatives.

Mainly, however, it is necessary to work outside the system, to try to draw people away from the elites who now dominate them, and to encourage them to form autonomous organizations which actually serve their interests.  Although this movement may seem like a very long shot in our present atmosphere of fear, greed, passivity, celebrity culture and corporatism, there is more of it around than you might think.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 12, 2008 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Scottk, Jersey Girl and everyone:
“This is among the topics that can’t be discussed in the presidential campaign or elsewhere. Why are we in Iraq? What do we owe Iraqis for destroying their country? The majority of the American people favor U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Do their voices matter?”
Noam Chomsky

This is the truth that no Obama supporter can answer. How is the United States going to withdraw from Iraq when it has already spent over $1 billion on building the infamous Baghdad embassy, known as “the city within the city”. Combine this with the air bases being constructed across Iraq, what would a President Obama do, just abandon them? Of course not.
The new President will be pragmatic about all of this, similar to the way he opted out of public financing, he is a “smart guy”, he sees the advantage. Having global oil companies working for our strategic interests in a land where the oil is easily extractable: no permafrost or deep sea rigs. He will be applauded for having the foresight to look out for the American driving public. That’s the way it will spin.
But there is no truth to that rumor being bandied about that H in his middle name does not stand for Hussein. The rumor is (if you can keep this to yourselves) it stands for Hegemony.

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By jersey girl, July 12, 2008 at 6:44 am Link to this comment

scottk: Yes, and he doesn’t even bother to bring them flowers anymore. Sad isn’t it?

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By jersey girl, July 12, 2008 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

beerdoctor: Great post.  You said: “There is a nifty cadre of celebrity progressives ready to line up and get aboard the Obama train. The people who choose not to. The people who question this so-called progressive authority, like Ralph Nader, or Tim King, or Chris Hedges? They are promptly told to shut up.”

The so called “progressives” for Obama can’t handle the truth. They are “programmed” to stick with the democratic party candidate because that mantra repeats in their head…~if you don’t the republican will win~.  Well some of us managed to avoid being implanted with that chip and can think freely.  The democrats in congress have spit on “we the people” over and over and over again. They don’t deserve our respect. Most of all they don’t deserve our votes. In this entire 8 year tyrannical rule of the bush crime family they were NEVER an opposition party.

The supreme court the obamatons are so worried about? Well who gave the green light to Alito and Roberts.. why, it was the democrats that’s who !! The ones who also gave us the patriot acts I and II, the Iraq war and the shredding of the bill of rights! Wow they’ve been busy doing the job of the people havent they? Why do the faithful dem suppporters insist on acting like a bunch of groveling slaves? Too many of them are more than happy to accept any little crumb they throw their way and to take their bitchslaps and say “thank you sir may I have another?”  It’s disgusting.  Especially after disappointment after disappointment.  The latest disappointment being their shiny nominee who has proven himself to be anything BUT progressive. He in fact, has been very kind to the other side just lathering them in compliments, while throwing his progressive base under the bus.

What they fail to realize is that we could start a HUGE but bloodless revolution at the voting box in november by voting OUTSIDE THE PARTY. Republicans are disgusted with their party as well.  Imagine if they voted for the libertarian or the constitutionalist instead of McInsane?

Your defeatists if you say it’s impossible. If our founding fathers thought the way most democratic supporters think today, there would be no united states of america.  Those men were brave enough to break from the status quo and do something DIFFERENT.

How about you dig out that programming chip and think outside the box and work to defeat the one party system that has not served you well at all. 

BTW beer:  Thank you for posting those beautiful and very meaningful words by George Harrison.  Almost brought me to tears.

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By jersey girl, July 12, 2008 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

Outraged stated:  ” this OK, or should demand the OWNERSHIP of our country BACK….?  The Constitution says: WE THE PEOPLE, it doesn’t say and IF WE HAVE A “GOOD KING”.

Well, as for me, I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore !

If Obama is the “good king”. And if what Tony is implying is true, that each “king” has their own interests, than the country is in for more war in the middle east, more civil liberties violations, more investment bank bailouts, more health care fraud perpetrated on the american people, more nuclear power plants and endless kowtowing to Israel. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not signing up for that.

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By thebeerdoctor, July 12, 2008 at 2:25 am Link to this comment

“I awakened to the cry that the people
have the power to redeem
the work of fools upon the meek
the graces shower its decreed
the people rule”
PATTI SMITH, People Have The Power

It is sad to see the expediency that so many have thrown away their principles just because some glamorous candidate appears to be fresh, offers lawyer loop-hole type answers, which are almost immediately lapped up as reasonable, like thirst parched tongues on a very hot day.
Perhaps that is Norman Solomon’s predicament. Too many years out in the anti-war wilderness. Too many years of condescending remarks on C-SPAN interviews that nobody really wanted to watch or listen to anyway. Can the same be said for Barbara Ehrenreich? Is she so ready throw all of her nickel and dime observations of wisdom, to support a candidate who appoints a WAL-MART apologist, to head his economic advisers?
And there is no problem with Michael Moore. The multi-millionaire who made his fortune being a critic of the system supports Barack Obama, and why shouldn’t he? A lifetime NRA member, who only four years ago supported General Wesley Clark. The same general who told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! that he thought that cluster bombs were a humanitarian weapon. No, I see no problem there.
There is a nifty cadre of celebrity progressives ready to line up and get aboard the Obama train. The people who choose not to. The people who question this so-called progressive authority, like Ralph Nader, or Tim King, or Chris Hedges? They are promptly told to shut up.

“We were talking about the love that has gone so cold,
And the people, who gain the world but lose their souls,
They don’t know, they can’t see,
Are you one of them?”
GEORGE HARRISON, Within You And Without You

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By Outraged, July 12, 2008 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

Re: Tony Wicher

Your quote: “My understanding is that the “ruling class” is not monolithic but consists of competing interests. I would say that the most sinister elements of the ruling class have taken political control in this country.”

Your first assertion is absolutely accurate. I’ve read, investigated and attempted to make sense of the whole “sha-bang”.  And I would wholeheartedly agree.  However, your next assertion…well…I think is telling.  To say that “the most sinister elements of the ruling class” have done this, that or the other thing, is in fact, ASSERTING that we have “a ruling class”.  Where I take issue with this (BTW, I agree) is that we have “a ruling class” AT ALL.

Is it possible to have A DEMOCRACY and yet a “ruling class”?  What in actuality you are saying is that; we could have a “good king” or a “bad king”.  And that we’d be “lucky” to have a “good king”. (at least, that what it appears your claiming, correct me if I’m wrong)

Is this OK, or should demand the OWNERSHIP of our country BACK….?  The Constitution says: WE THE PEOPLE, it doesn’t say and IF WE HAVE A “GOOD KING”.

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By Tony Wicher, July 11, 2008 at 10:00 pm Link to this comment

By Anarcissie, July 11 at 5:15 pm #

“It is pretty obvious, things being as they are, that no one who does not subscribe to the settled ruling-class program of imperialism, war, world domination and, at home, the repression and classism implicit in that program, is going to be allowed anywhere near the presidency.  Obama understands that.  He is smart in that sense.  Probably, Norman Solomon and many other Obama fans understand it as well.  We can say these people are not really intelligent, but they turned out to be more intelligent in this case than the people who _didn’t_ understand it.  Give the devils their due.”
—————————————————————————-

Anarcissie,

My understanding is that the “ruling class” is not monolithic but consists of competing interests. I would say that the most sinister elements of the ruling class have taken political control in this country. Obama represents the liberal end of the ruling class - like his good friend Warren Buffet, who has been saying for years and years that the tax code favoring rich people like himself is bad for the economy. The high price of oil is great for oil companies, but really bad for most other businesses as well as for the people. So we’ll see, come November and beyond, what happens. Not an immediate end to the whole empire, I’m sure, but I think circumstances will force Obama to manage a slow contraction, and I hope he does it successfully. I think he himself forsees this. After all, Iraq is a disaster from any standpoint except that of Exxon,  Haliburton and Blackwater. Obama does not represent them.

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By Maani, July 11, 2008 at 9:51 pm Link to this comment

Louise:

Sorry for the confusion: I was not providing an apologia for their vote.  I was simply stating the facts of the matter.

Beerdoctor:

Your parsing of “smart, “intelligent” and “clever” is perfect.  I agree with your final assessment.

Jersey Girl:

“He voted for that horrendous snooping law because he intends to use it himself.  There is no other logical explanation for it.”

This brings up a related point.  At no time have I heard Obama suggest that he would UNDO all the damage that Bush & Co. have done as they went about merrily shredding the Constitution.  Obama has said nothing about reversing “signing statements” that create an even more unitary executive branch, nor has he said anything about reversing the evisceration of habeus corpus or posse comitatus, among other things.  Certainly I do not expect to hear McCain address these issues.  But one would certainly expect it from Obama, if he is even marginally “progressive,” and not just another political hack and corporate shill.

You also quote Tony as saying, “Cyrena has been defending Obama in what I consider to be a very courteous, open-minded and rational way.”  To which you replied, “What? Open minded?? Rational?? You gotta be kidding. Courteous? Only to those that agree with her.”

I agree.  Yet even on those occasions when she has been able to avoid giving in to emotionalism, defensiveness and attack (and, on occasion, insult, denigration and profanity), it has clearly taken an EXTREME act of willpower for her to do so.  Indeed, while one could argue that she attempts to defend Obama in a well-thought-out and supported - even occasionally “rational” - fashion, that does not equate with “open-minded” much less “courteous.”

Peace.

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By John, July 11, 2008 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

That’s odd, I thought you had to be a senator in order to vote in the senate…

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie:  Well what’s a leftie to do?  What do you intend to do?

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Tony says: “Cyrena has been defending Obama in what I consider to be a very courteous, open-minded and rational way.”  What?  Open minded?? rational?? You gotta be kidding.  Courteous? Only to those that agree with her.

Peace and adios..  I shall follow your lead and ignore your reply as well.

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By Anarcissie, July 11, 2008 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

I think Norman Solomon—and Obama—are pretty much correct in saying that the enthusiasts of the Left who were so excited about him were not listening to him or examining his positions attentively.

Being a leftist myself, I pointed this out on a number of occasions only to be told that I didn’t understand hope, and so forth.

It is pretty obvious, things being as they are, that no one who does not subscribe to the settled ruling-class program of imperialism, war, world domination and, at home, the repression and classism implicit in that program, is going to be allowed anywhere near the presidency.  Obama understands that.  He is smart in that sense.  Probably, Norman Solomon and many other Obama fans understand it as well.  We can say these people are not really intelligent, but they turned out to be more intelligent in this case than the people who _didn’t_ understand it.  Give the devils their due.

And in the future, my fellow lefties, read the label carefully, and consider the store the goods are coming from.

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

Outraged: Excellent and passionate post !  The bullet points are a nice touch. Not that I think any of that matters to those that prefer to remain willfully ignorant of the facts that contradict their “beliefs”.

However, I appreciate them and thank you for stating them so eloquently.

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment

trouble: very well stated. I agree with you. Obama’s wanting to reach across the aisle to the rat bastards and his willingness with which to throw the progressive base under the bus, is a glimpse into this man’s character and I don’t like what I see.

He voted for that horrendous snooping law because he intends to use it himself.  THere is no other logical explanation for it.  If there is another, I’d sure like to hear it.

As for cyrena.  I no longer read what she posts. She is a sycophant and they are always boring. There are too many others on here who post with much more wit and knowledge that I’d rather spend my time reading.

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By Tony Wicher, July 11, 2008 at 5:52 pm Link to this comment

By troublesum, July 11 at 4:35 pm #

Jersey Girl, beerdoctor and others who have been the target of cyrena’s verbal abuse:  I am glad you have realized that her motive is to drive away all dissent from this web site and turn it into another fan club for Obama.  He seems to attract people who cannot tolerate differences of opinion.
——————————————————————————-
Intolerant of differences of opinion? That’s you and Jersey Girl, not cyrena. You guys have never looked at yourselves in the mirror have you? Cyrena has been defending Obama in what I consider to be a very courteous, open-minded and rational way. Now I know you are going to respond to this post with some sort of insult like you usually do. I will ignore you.

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By Outraged, July 11, 2008 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment

Re: Cyrena

A portion of the article you quoted: ““The people who say this apparently haven’t been listening to me.” Overall, his career as a politician has embraced conciliation and compromise rather than pushing against centrist corporate agendas…”

>I disagree that people are just projecting what they want to see in Obama.  These people MAY exist but how much more so for Obama than any other candidate?  Mr Soloman is making this implication but there isn’t any PROOF of his assertion.  I thought many of the Clinton people were just as nuts as some of the Obama people.

In addition, Mr. Soloman is making a foregone conclusion by using the phrase “centrist corporate agendas”.  Since when have “corporate agendas” been CENTRIST.  The MAJORITY of “corporate agendas” are rightist so Mr. Soloman is simply skewing reality to fit HIS VIEW.

During his diatribe he consistently implies that progressives who supported Obama “couldn’t see the forest through the trees”, so to speak.  NOT SO.  Many supported Obama’s CENTRIST STANCE in order to bring some sanity to an out of control situation, by coming together for the good of ALL.

Obama outright said he DID NOT SUPPORT TELECOM IMMUNITY, yet now has voted in favor of it.  This is not the “for the good of ALL” anyone bargained for nor what Obama purported during the primaries.  Neither is a vote for immunity centrist.  IT IS RIGHT-WING, AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL, something for which Obama cannot feign ignorance.

Mr Soloman’s attempt to portray progressives as out of touch with reality is sleazy indeed.  Obama has not KEPT A CENTRIST VIEW, he has decidedly moved right.  Which translates as: HE WAS CENTRIST AND HAS NOW MOVED RIGHT.

1 Protecting business intrests
2 Choosing Foreign Policy war hawks
3 Funding religious organizations
4 Voting for the loss of constitutional rights
5 Absolute support of AIPAC
6 Touting the slashing of social safety nets

I’ve been listening and Obama is definitely singing a different tune since receiving the endorsement.  And Mr. Soloman’s blame the victim mentality is sleazy and uses the fine logic associated with rapists.

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By troublesum, July 11, 2008 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment

Jersey Girl, beerdoctor and others who have been the target of cyrena’s verbal abuse:  I am glad you have realized that her motive is to drive away all dissent from this web site and turn it into another fan club for Obama.  He seems to attract people who cannot tolerate differences of opinion.  I think it’s related to his dislike of partisan politics - as though any other kind of politics were possible.  He wants to end “the partisan bickering” as he calls it.  That’s another way of telling people who disagree with him to shut up.  Does that remind you of anyone?  It is a fortunate thing for us that there are a few people in Washington who were willing to get into some partisan bickering over the preservation of the 4th amendment.  According to Obama everyone should just shut up and give the president what he wants in the name of getting along.  We are going to see more of this if Obama is elected.  There should be no dissent, no partisan fighting for what we believe.  He may be worse than Bush when it comes to silencing dissent.  Cyrena has given us a fore taste of it here.

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

beer: If norman soloman thinks it’s smart to vote against the 4th amendment and thinks it’s just peachy fine to place sanctions on the poor iranian people and then bomb them but ever so precisely(but only if they deserve it!)and then perhaps some well aimed missles at pakistan to try to catch that wascally varmint obl, then I think norman soloman isn’t very “smart.”

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By thebeerdoctor, July 11, 2008 at 4:23 pm Link to this comment

Norman Solomon states: “Obama is an extremely smart guy.” That is of course debatable. Some might say he is an extremely clever guy. Still others might say he is an extremely ruthless guy. But I think what he is calling smart, is in fact clever. And cleverness is not always synonymous with intelligence.

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

Louise:  Right on g/f !!

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By Louise, July 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm Link to this comment

Maani:

Time frame or copies aside, did someone have a loaded shotgun pressed against their head?

If not, the habit of not reading legislation they vote on has no excuse. Absolutely none!

When Clinton signed the bill that gave us the deregulation that led to ENRON and the mortgage meltdown crisis and the ballooning market speculation driving the increase in the price of oil today, what was his excuse?

Oh, he didn’t have time to read it because we needed operating capital approved by congress so the government wouldn’t shut down. Same excuse for the fact that congress approved that legislation that Clinton signed, without reading it. And how come the need for an operating budget for the government ran right down to the wire anyway? Didn’t anyone know it had to happen? Oh that’s right, it was a stall tactic. Happens every year. What kinds of surprises will we get next year?

Stall tactics. Deliberate and well designed to allow doing something no-one would accept in the light of day. [Cant you just see Phil Gramm sneaking around in the dark?]

Well golly whiz, since everyone in congress knows this stall tactic is a favorite for sneaky bastards to use to slide something unacceptable into legislation, why do they continue on, using and accepting the same stall tactics. If they’ve been getting away with this kind of manipulation for this long, where’s the excuse? And how long was it going on before then. And maybe the question we need to ask is, has it just become a lot easier to accept it will go on and therefore accept the fact that there’s no need to read the bill cause someone will slip something into it the night before it gets to the president anyway? And if they DON’T read it they are BLAMELESS, right?

Wrong!

How about these congressers [who I think are just plain lazy, because reading bills is just plain boring] pass some legislation making it illegal to slip anything into the bill after final debate? Or how about the bill gets locked up when the sun goes down. Or how about they pass legislation making it illegal to vote on a bill without a grace period following debate to allow time for everyone to read it?

I could easily read a 172 page bill in a weekend. Might not be a particularly pleasant way to spend a weekend, but I could do it, as could you. Actually the bill is more like 342 pages, but that’s doable too.  And if I was provided with the staff these guys have, I think I could figure out how to get a few more copies printed. Their explanation is simply an excuse for inaction.

Sorry. There is no excuse for not reading laws before they become enacted into law. None! For cripes sake, the vote could have been delayed! Like I said, no shotgun, no excuse.

NONE!

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

maani:  Thanks for the article.

” He claims to be committed to change. But he flip-flopped on President Bush’s ‘war on terror’ Patriot Act, which curbs civil liberties, targets immigrants and has unleashing domestic spying. At first - in 2003 - he joined the chorus condemning it as a step towards the prediction that “when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” By 2006 he was voting for its re-authorisation.

“At least he voted: he has abstained on an astonishing 166 issues to avoid leaving a trail which might impede his presidential ambitions.”

I read about his conservative benefactors in that Harpers article.  That’s when I knew he was just another corporate shill.  He is their chosen messiah.  When he gave that stirring speech at the 2004 convention, they had every intention of running him for president and making him the nominee. There is no other way to explain his rise to such prominence from nowhere so quickly.  I never thought he was moving to the right.  He’s always been part of the corporate machine.

Makes no bit of difference to the corporations which party gets in as long as the president does their bidding. As that article points out,  Obama already has a great start.

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By cyrena, July 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

by: Norman Solomon, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Norman makes my own points, but he’s got a much better reputation, so I’ll just share a few excerpts straight from his piece, and the link to the entire thing is at the bottom.

•  “…But on July 8, Obama made a valid point - even if it wasn’t exactly the point he was trying to make - when he disputed “this whole notion that I am shifting to the center” and argued: “The people who say this apparently haven’t been listening to me.” Overall, his career as a politician has embraced conciliation and compromise rather than pushing against centrist corporate agendas…”

Nope..they haven’t. Felicity mentioned that just a week or so ago. I remember it well. We listen to the ‘interpretations’ of others and just say to ourselves or no one in particular…”But, that’s not what he said.”

So no, they don’t listen.  They’ve projected their own ‘whatever’ onto what he’s said, or not said, and it’s always been a carved- in- stone ‘projection’ that generalizes without considering any other connected realities.

•  “…These days, an appreciable number of Obama supporters are starting to use words like “disillusionment.” But that’s a consequence of projecting their political outlooks onto the candidate in the first place….The best way to avoid becoming disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place.”
Indeed. My point exactly. Attempts to ‘define’ other people in one’s own view instead of listening to the person define themselves will lead to the same consequences as ‘assumptions’ always do.
•  “ Barack Obama is an extremely smart guy. And I can’t remember a major contender for president less inclined to insult the intelligence of the public. Let’s return the favor by directly challenging him when appropriate. We’d do him - and the Obama campaign, ourselves and the country as a whole - no favors by opting for silence instead….... We can help the Obama for President effort when we hold him to his good positions - and move to buck him up when he wavers…”

I couldn’t agree more. He messed up on the FISA thing for sure.  So this is the same thing as the old adage that says:

“I love my country, right or wrong. When she’s right, keep her right, and when she’s wrong, make her right.”

But again, we’re talking constructive criticism here, not blind hatred and resentment that will target absolutely any and everything that he says or does, just because it was him that said it or did it.

Anyway, this is an excellent piece from Norman Soloman, but then…he stuff generally is.


http://www.truthout.org/article/obama-and-progressive-base

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By Maani, July 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

JG:

You’re always welcome.

JG/Louise:

I’m glad JG brought up the USA PATRIOT Act.  (I capitalize “USA PATRIOT” because, believe it or not, it actually stands for (are you ready?) “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism.”  Yikes!).

As I have noted, the Act had been pre-written (i.e., prior to 9/11) and was just waiting to be given to Congress.  According to Congressman Jerry Nadler (who I have know for over 25 years), the Act was given to the 535 members of Congress late on a Thursday, with a scheduled vote for Monday.  This means the members of Congress had less than 72 hours to read a 170-page behemoth.  As if that was not outrageous enough, only 250 copes were provided - which means each copy had to be SHARED by two members of Congress, EACH of whom had to read it within that 72 hour period.

However, the outrage didn’t end there.  When the Act came up for vote on Monday, the version that was provided for the vote had undergone at least 25% to 35% revision over the weekend by the drafters (Ashcroft and his cronies at Justice).

Because no one in Congress wanted to look “soft” on terrorism only one month after 9/11, the majority of them felt they had no choice but to vote for the Act, no matter how flawed or potentially damaging to civil liberties.

Finally, for those who were not taken in by Obama despite his rhetoric, you might find the following article interesting.  Ignore the date on the top of the home page (which is always the current date); the article appeared in this publication on January 18, 2008 - only two weeks after the Iowa caucus:

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/12068,opinion,obama-is-just-another-politician

Peace.

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By Louise, July 11, 2008 at 12:26 pm Link to this comment

According to John Conyers, they NEVER read any of the bills they vote on!

I suspect there are a few others, like Kucinich who do, but most don’t. Maybe they don’t see that as part of the job description they are getting paid for.

We need to establish a litmus test before any of these folks can run for office.

First, Can they read?
Second, what is the length of their attention span?

Check out the current state of impeachment, courtesy Kucinich. smile
http://www.michaelmoore.com/

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

Louise:  Funny, most didn’t bother to read the patriot act or the military commissions act either.  (of course Kucinich did and voted correctly)

What the HELL are we paying these people for???

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By Louise, July 11, 2008 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

Since the “historical embarrassment” of the Richard Nixon administration, the “conservatives” have devoted years to turning “liberal” into a dirty word. They’ve been so successful that even liberals try to distance them selves from being liberal. One has to look hard to find anyone in congress who isn’t actually just conservative. And the media does us no favors by implying there are still two sides.

Obama’s success in the primaries is due, in part to his inspiring hope in a population feeling hopeless. When you think about it, he never identified himself as serving the interests of the liberal, or the progressive, or whatever. Rather he clearly identified the need to bring all sides together, for the common good of all. Most of us liked that notion.

Now that we’re committed to having Obama as our next president, the rhetoric has become a little more specific, and we’re forced to admit [with a bit of a shudder] that we have to get along with so-called conservatives. And that’s the thing that hurts. Because there are so few honest conservatives left in DC.

There’s nothing honest about a politician calling themselves conservative when everything they do is aimed at protecting a tiny percentage of the population that has demonstrated over and over again they live to destroy everything that use to be considered conservative.

Like the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States.

We’re all looking for clearly defined goals laying out principles of good versus bad, right versus wrong and we aren’t finding them. And maybe we never will again. Because we’ve become a population confused. A population mislead, and a population forced into the narrow view of fighting over two names ... conservative and liberal.

Thanks to mainstreammedia, who long since gave up covering issues choosing name calling instead, we will continue being confused and mislead. Just like our schizoid congressers who cant figure out what they are, either.

Here’s a great bit of perspective on the FISA passage:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=5341118&page=1

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican who opposes the way the bill gives the phone companies immunity from lawsuits told his colleagues before the vote they were preparing to commit an “historical embarrassment.”

“Everybody knows we don’t know what we’re voting on,” Specter said, pointing out that many lawmakers still have not been fully briefed on the president’s program, for which the phone company immunity is being granted.

“That’s what the members of the Senate are being asked to do today, grant retroactive immunity on a program the senators don’t know what it is,” Specter said, although he opposed the attempt to strip the immunity provision in favor of changing it.

And so the FISA bill was an “historical embarrassment” that Specter became complicit in when he chose later to vote for the law.

“Faced with two unsatisfactory options, I chose to give law enforcement the extra power to fight terrorism even though I would have preferred a different balance on protecting constitutional rights,” he said in a paper statement after the vote.

~~~

So, the Senate voted on something they, “don’t know what we’re voting on” because they haven’t been briefed and chances are they never read the bill anyway, because they never do. And Spectrum’s notion that this is an “historical embarrassment” falls a bit short, because passing FISA is not the embarrassment. The “historical embarrassment” is the 110th Congress, and the notion that any meaningful percentage of honest “liberals” actually exists.

Spector, ever mindful of the need to look “bi-partisan” expressed his outrage, after caving and voting to authorize, with a paper statement.

As did Obama.

Tell me, is a “paper statement” like a Paper Tiger?

A one dimensional picture of the real thing, with no life, no roar and no teeth.

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

Thanks Scott: Brilliant commentary indeed by Sirota. He echoes what many of us here have been saying all along, eh?

As far as the Fisa, snoop on your fellow citizen law goes…for those who really know nothing about alex jones and think he’s some sort of nut, the guy knows history and he knows what’s going on with our country. He’s been predicting all this bs for years. In fact, He was talking about those citizen spy provisions weeks ago.  In other words, according to that law, your computer guy, your electrician, the cable guy..whoever comes into your house to repair ANYTHING, can be a spy for the govt. Privacy? Ha! wiped away by the likes of Obama and the rest of the democratic traitors and republican criminals

  How’s that for a police state people?  Can anyone say nazi germany & 1984 on steroids?

PS: Maani: thanks for the “props”.  I look forward to reading posts by you and scott and beerdoctor and trouble.. and many others who don’t buy the hype..keep up the good fight kids smile

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By cyrena, July 11, 2008 at 10:40 am Link to this comment

Only one comment Maani..on this..

“... So are those who seem willing to justify or rationalize his vote on FISA - to any degree at all - also willing to forgive Hillary’s vote on the resolution to that same degree?..”

While there may in fact be people who are willing to ‘rationalize’ or ‘justify’ Obama’s vote on FISA, (which by the way is NOT an ‘outright’ reversal at all..he already said what he was going to do, and that’s the way it went down) I haven’t heard from anyone on this thread that is attempting to ‘rationalize’ or ‘justify’ it. Not a single solitary person.

I have yet to figure out why the hell he did it, because if it was about about ‘political expediency’ and if he was playing games, and didn’t believe in what he was doing from a pragmatic matter, all he had to do was VOTE NO! It damn sure wasn’t going to change the outcome.

So, I don’t personally find a ‘justification’ or rationalization. His vote is apparently what he said it is. I’m gonna take him at face value on it, when he says that it is a compromise, and NOT one that he was entirely happy with, specifically the the telecom immunity that he voted to have removed from the bill.

And the bottom line is that ‘compromises’ never (in my own professional opinion) represent the best of solutions. That’s almost like a gospel. They are limited in what they can provide, and used as last ditch efforts, generally for short periods of time. It’s like that little donut tire they provide as a spare for your car.

That isn’t a rationalization or a justification. It is what it is. A compromise.

Meantime, enough ‘reaction’ to this has occurred to prompt a lawsuit, as outlined at The Nation, and I find that pretty exciting. Too bad we couldn’t have gotten it together years ago, to sue the shit out of everybody in the regime. But, better late than not at all. Maybe this is a sign that the American people are willing to act to take their government back.

I don’t care about Rezko by the way. Not sure anybody else does either. Well..take that back. I know you do, so I can at least acknowledge that you do. I think there are more important things than Rezko going on right now. And, Hillary still needs her bills paid.

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By cyrena, July 11, 2008 at 10:19 am Link to this comment

Interview With Rep. Barbara Lee
Friday 11 July 2008

by: William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t | Report

Congresswoman Barbara Lee. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Barbara Lee (D-California) remains stoutly determined to drag her Congressional colleagues, as well as the Bush administration, away from continuing to support the long list of foreign and domestic policy decisions that have damaged the Unites States at home and abroad. In this video, she sits with William Rivers Pitt to discuss several of these issues in detail.

http://www.truthout.org/article/interview-with-rep-barbara-lee

The video is accessible at the link.

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By Maani, July 11, 2008 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

I wanted to add two things.  First, an article from the Times indicating that, despite his claims that he would be “transparent” with his finances, Obama (like McCain) is hedging on releasing the names of his “bundlers” (one of whom, by the way, is Rezko):

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/11/us/politics/11bundlers.html?_r=1&sq=luo&st=nyt&oref=slogin&scp=1&pagewanted=print

Also, someone made a very interesting comment, which seems at least somewhat valid (and Tony is not going to like this…LOL).

Hillary was roundly chastised for her vote on the Iraq War resolution.  And many believe that she cast that vote out of political expediency; although she had not yet decided to run for president, she figured that it she did not vote for it, she would look “soft” on terrorism and not “serious” enough to be CIC.

Obama’s outright reversal on FISA, and his vote for it, was pretty much the same thing.  And although it is true that thousands of people will not die or be injured as a result of his vote, its effects on our civil liberties and privacy are just as heinous in their way as Hillary’s vote was in its way.

So are those who seem willing to justify or rationalize his vote on FISA - to any degree at all - also willing to forgive Hillary’s vote on the resolution to that same degree?

Again, this is not MY comment (though I can see the reason in it), but someone else’s.  However, your comments are welcome.

Peace.

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By Maani, July 11, 2008 at 9:31 am Link to this comment

JG:

“A vote for a true progressive is never a wasted vote.  A wasted vote is one that you cast out of fear.”

Wow!  That is simply exceptional, and puts the entire concept in two simple but effective sentences!  And it answers Cyrena’s political expediency perfectly (as do the comments of beerdoctor, doug and yourself, among others). What Cyrena STILL doesn’t get is that voting your conscience (or, as you put it, voting for someone who TRULY represents your political values and beliefs) is the courageous - and correct - act.  And as you know, I agree that if McCain wins it will not be the fault of those who voted for Nader, McKinney or no one, but solely Obama’s fault.  Indeed, I find it difficult to comprehend why Cyrena - who is (despite any indications to the contrary…LOL) quite intelligent and politically astute - clings so desperately to the two-party system.

Re the 14 points of fascism, Naomi Klein gave a brilliant speech on this late last year.  [N.B. It is on YouTube, though I’m not sure what it’s called.]

Re JFK, people seem to forget that he CAUSED both the Cuban missile crisis and the building of the Berlin Wall as a result of his “hopelessly weak” first meeting with Kruschev (as most historians now agree).  It was shortly after this “disastrous” meeting that Kruschev claimed, “We will bury you,” and began building the Berlin Wall, and placed the missiles in Cuba.  So JFK’s admittedly effective response to Kruschev was really just cleaning up the mess he had made in the first place.

As for Vietnam, JFK was actually torn here.  On the one hand, it is true that he STATED that he planned to increase the U.S. presence there.  And yet at the same time, he had drafted an “executive order” that would have actually REMOVED most of the “advisers” in Vietnam toward a virtually conmplete withdrawal.

It is this second factor that many people believe was the reason he was assassinated: the war hawks and military industrial complex very much wanted the war, not least for the money it would generate to both the Pentagon and the defense contractors - hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake.  So when JFK seemed to be back-tracking from increasing the U.S. presence, the MIC hatched its assassination plan.

As for LBJ’s involvement in that plan, this has been debated quite a bit.  On the one hand, it seems patently ridiculous.  On the other hand, not only did LBJ have the most to gain (the presidency), and, as Tony points out, LBJ had the “connections” in Texas, but there is also his famous comment to the Pentagon brass after signing the order increasing the U.S. presence in Vietnam (only weeks after JFK’s death): “Gentlemen, you have your war.”

Peace.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 11, 2008 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

Speaking in terms of policy and principle, the war in Vietnam was initiated not by Jack Kennedy but by Truman, Marshall and Atcheson.  Kennedy’s part in it was to “get America moving again”, which in terms of Vietnam was to increase the 1000-or-so American troop presence there to about 20,000 in order to run a pro-Western government down the throats of the Vietnamese, instead of trying to seduce Ho Chi Minh away from the Soviet Union as Tito had been seduced.  In other words, same values, same beliefs, same overall policy of running the wolrd, but dumber execution leading to disaster.  I think the source of that was that the Kennedys were jocks much as Bush is.  The successful jock requires a fixed framework in which he can horse around safely, but the framework of the real world is not fixed and can’t be made safe.

Looking at American policies with regard to Vietnam from the mid-1940s onward, I would say the first sharp break was the withdrawal under Nixon.

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By cyrena, July 11, 2008 at 8:37 am Link to this comment

The Gulf of Tonkin Incident happened on LBJ’s watch in 1964. Vietnam thus became his war.

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By jersey girl, July 11, 2008 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

I have to agree with doug.  Jfk was a bit of a hawk. 

Tony: I agree with you on chomsky. I admire him as well but am not happy with his view on 9/11 either. He said it didn’t matter who was responsible for 9/11?

I think if the general public would really do their own research, they’d come to the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job. It matters VERY MUCH who perpetrated it and what they gained from it.  Namely, war, oil and a police state.

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By Doug Tarnopol, July 11, 2008 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

Hey, Tony:

Fair enough, but it’s not a matter of opinion whether the war against South
Vietnam was initiated by JFK. It’s a fact. The expansions under LBJ and Nixon are also facts, but JFK should shoulder the burden, posthumously of course, for what we did to South Vietnam, which was clearly a war of aggression.

Dug

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