March 2008 Archives

Year No. 6

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From lao hong han, Don't Turn Your Eyes Away, Dammit!

I understand why, even as this sucking chest wound of an occupation enters its sixth year, there have been relatively few diaries here dealing with it. It's a drag to contemplate, and it's hard to figure out what to do about it. It's easier to write about the Democratic primary campaign and the dangers of McCain. It's easier to assume that Clinton or Obama will move to pull the troops out in a year or so.

Nonetheless, I ask that you give me about four minutes to watch a short video from Baghdad, just produced by The Guardian and ITV News.

Sucks, doesn't it?

Our President, our government, our military created this awful wasteland. They are enabling it, even as you read, pumping money and weapons to the perpetrators of these massacres.

And you know what?

It is not enough to be appalled or to denounce Bush. The grieving families in that Baghdad park-turned-cemetery do not need our sympathy or our solace. They need us to act to end this unjust and unjustifiable occupation.

Obama and the American psyche

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I just watched Obama's speech in Philadelphia and I am so struck by it. He understands our psyche, America, and he understands the goals. What an extraordinary time to be an American.

He didn't shy away from expressing hard truths. He said them and then he said we can do better and we will do better and now is the time to make the choice to do better.

And in understanding how he views many of problems America confronts, it also explains his statement that now is the right time for him to run -- that waiting is not a choice. We do not continue to grow toward our potential as a country if we ignore or push aside this discussion.

We need this man as President of the United States.

UPDATE: Ben Smith has the full transcript of the prepared remarks posted over at Politico.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

Obama, his church and his former pastor

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First, Obama set the record straight about his thoughts on Rev. Wright and his preaching at Huffington Post.

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue. [...]

Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

...And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.

Please read the entire post if you haven't already or watch it here.

But that's not all that Barack has said. He reflects on Bobby Kennedy's words about Martin Luther King's death and speaks out about his church and his faith in Indiana on March 15, 2008.

His comment, 'the little bits of America all in me' line really struck home with me as did his overall point of choosing to not be divided.

I read blog posts on this topic from two other bloggers I respect that I want to share. Andrew Sullivan's and Poblano's comments both add critical elements for consideration when thinking about this.

McCain and Hagee

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I did some poking around for some background on Dr. John Hagee, whose endorsement John McCain so proudly acknowledged, at least when it was first given. It does make one wonder who on McCain's campaign staff is responsible for background research.

Bill Moyers covered Hagee last fall and again this last week. October 2007's program was titled Christians United for Israel (CUFI). The March 7, 2008 program had two segments - another one on CUFI and a second titled The GOP's Nominee. Videos and transcripts are available for each of the segments as well as links to additional source material.

Hagee's a very nasty piece of work. Troutfishing on daily kos posted about him recently.

Questioned on CNN March 1st, about whether he had been aware of John Hagee's writings prior to soliciting Hagee's political endorsement, John McCain refused to answer but for not denying it McCain's response seemed closer to a confirmation that, yes, he had been aware of the political extremity of John Hagee's writing. In pastor Hagee's book 2006 "Jerusalem Countdown", Hagee claimed the Roman Catholic Church conspired with Hitler to kill Jews in the Holocaust but also, in the same book, blamed the Holocaust on Jews themselves (for worshiping idols) and wrote that Hitler and the Nazis were actually working for God, divine agents sent to chase Jews, through the rather inefficient and brutal mechanism of killing them in massive numbers, towards Palestine, "the only home God ever intended for the Jews to have." One can read a grotesque collective theological justification for genocidal campaigns against Jews as being inherent to John Hagee's view which decries anti-Semitism but also depicts Jewish residence anywhere else but in Israel as an affront to God.

The implication is that Jews living anywhere but in Israel should expect violent persecution until they relent and make Aliyah. But Israel, in Hagee's and the Christian Zionist vision, resembles not so much a refuge as, for the implied element of violent coercion, an ethnic bantustan that will, in the end-time, function as an enormous death camp for all the Jews chased there by Hagee's 'divine anti-Semitism'.

Several leaders of John Hagee's CUFI have discussed the coming "Holocaust" they expect for Jews, and former CUFI executive board member Jerry Falwell once told a congregation that "millions of Jews" would be slaughtered. CUFI leader Dr. Chuck Missler is even a bit more explicit and John Hagee, in Hagee's 2003 book "Battle For Jerusalem", both publicly acknowledged and also seemed to agree with Missler's view that the end of days will be, for Jews, "worse than Auschwitz."

There's more in the diary as well as a link to the blog, Talk to Action, which specifically focuses on following the insanity of the Christian dominionists and those such as Hagee. Talk to Action's link to more resources on Hagee and CUFI.

I don't see why people aren't calling on McCain to "denounce and reject" the endorsement of this man and his teachings. He's every bit as reprehensible as Farrakhan and I don't believe he's really 'flown below the radar'. It's probably more accurate to say that many in the corporate media do not closely monitor the Christian dominionist movement and all its many offshoots.

UPDATE: One more reason 'denouncing and rejecting' is most definitely in order.

Media Matters has more on Hagee's many outrageous stances including his words on Katrina and New Orleans.

On the September 18, 2006, edition of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, host Terry Gross said to Hagee, "You said after Hurricane Katrina that it was an act of God, and you said 'when you violate God's will long enough, the judgment of God comes to you. Katrina is an act of God for a society that is becoming Sodom and Gomorrah reborn.' " She then asked, "Do you still think that Katrina is punishment from God for a society that's becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah?" Hagee responded:

HAGEE: All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens. I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are -- were recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area that was not carried nationally that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other Gay Pride parades. So I believe that the judgment of God is a very real thing. I know that there are people who demur from that, but I believe that the Bible teaches that when you violate the law of God, that God brings punishment sometimes before the day of judgment. And I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.

Earlier in the program, Gross asked if Hagee believed that "all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews," to which Hagee replied, "Well, the Quran teaches that. Yes, it teaches that very clearly."

There's more including the 'slave sale' that his church was going to sponsor and of course, his denigration of Catholics.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

Mississippi Remembered

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One of the most respected diarists and front-pager at Daily Kos, Meteor Blades, has a diary today discussing his work registering black voters during Freedom Summer and some reflection on how the work done that summer fed yesterday's voting in Mississippi. It is a remarkable diary and representative of some of the best that daily kos has to offer.

The vote today in Mississippi had special resonance for me. It was 44 years ago this month that I decided to participate in Freedom Summer in the Magnolia State, registering black voters. After training at the Summer Project in Ohio, I traveled by bus to Jackson, arriving with a handful of others the fourth week of June.

Four days earlier three young men had gone missing - James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Goodman and Schwerner were New York Jews. Chaney was from the deepest shadows of the segregationist South, a black Mississippian. I might have shaken hands with one of them at our training. But if somebody had asked me to pick them out of a crowd on that early summer day in 1964, I couldn't have. A few days later, everybody knew who they were. Six weeks later, as a result of an intense federally coordinated manhunt that must have had FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover grinding his molars into dust, authorities pulled the three men's bodies from an earthen berm.

You can read the rest here. One of the commenters included this youtube embed of the relatively recent prosecution of the men who killed the 3 civil rights volunteers, Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. If you're unfamiliar with the details, it's a good refresher.

Yesterday's win by Barack Obama is a direct result of the brave men and women who fought for the right to vote back then. It's good to see their work rewarded.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

Hothead McCain

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From ThinkProgress

In an article titled "Hothead McCain," for the upcoming issue of The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss quotes Col. Larry Wilkerson (Ret.) -- former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell -- saying that with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) "[n]o dissent, no opinion to the contrary, however reasonable, will be entertained." Wilkerson added that McCain is "hardheaded," "arrogant," "hubristic," and "too proud for his own good." Referring to McCain's foreign policy advisers, Wilkerson said: They "scare me." "Scare me."

UPDATE: In an article in Salon, Mark Benjamin writes that some military officials are worried about McCain:

"I like McCain. I respect McCain. But I am a little worried by his knee-jerk response factor," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004 and is now campaigning for Clinton. "I think it is a little scary. I think this guy's first reactions are not necessarily the best reactions. I believe that he acts on impulse."

H/T to The Carpetbagger Report

It's About Delegates

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Let's add some perspective to last night's results counting. First, the tv talking heads are soooo into horse races because it gives them something to talk about. Second, the conventional wisdom "CW" switches so quickly depending on what gives them a narrative to talk about.

John Aravosis put it like this:

Look at what the pundits were saying before this evening. They were saying that even if she wins Ohio, Hillary is toast when it comes to the number of delegates.

Charlie Cook via Chuck Todd: NBC political analyst Charlie Cook writes in his CongressDaily column, "[W]inning by slight percentages in Texas and Ohio aren't real wins for Clinton. A 'win' would be anything that significantly closes the gap in delegates. Symbolic victories mean nothing at this point, other than encouraging her to plow ahead in this campaign, amassing a greater campaign debt than already exists and delaying her ability to get on with the next phase of her life."
Jonathan Alter used the following assumption when determining earlier today that Hillary is toast:

Let's assume Hillary beats expectations and wins Ohio tonight 55-45, Rhode Island 55-45, Texas, 53-47 and (this is highly improbable), ties in Vermont, 50-50....

So no matter how you cut it, Obama will almost certainly end the primaries with a pledged-delegate lead, courtesy of all those landslides in February. Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people. Even coming off a big Hillary winning streak, few if any superdelegates will be inclined to do so. For politicians to upend what the voters have decided might be a tad, well, suicidal.

Alter gave Hillary Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and a tie in Vermont (which she didn't get). And even then, he determined that she can't win enough delegates.

As Al Giordano points out at The Field:

...And even later than that - it will take much of tomorrow to sort out - the 67 delegates to be determined by the Texas caucuses.

The effort to stampede the spin based on partial results is getting media traction for one reason only: National political reporters don't want to get off the bus yet. They don't want to go back to the office, with grumpy editors on their case and on site. They want to keep the game going longer. [...]

Other media and other blogs can choose to go along with the media spin. Not me. Only a month ago the media spin on the night of Tsunami Tuesday was that Clinton "won" the overall "national primary" that day. Within days, though, reality set in, and was then reflected by 11 states in a row (12 if you include Vermont coming in first tonight).

It's about delegates. That has been The Field's analysis all along, and that will continue to be the basis of the conclusions here. Stubborn? Yes. Will time prove this emphasis to be right? Yes.

PocketNines has an excellent diary which needs to be read in full. Here's his intro:

...the issue here is that the way this is discussed in the media narrative does not fully educate the audience how daunting the math is for Hillary Clinton. Chuck Todd is clearly the best at articulating all of this, and I am convinced he understands these numbers in detail. However, even Todd has not been terribly aggressive in stressing the difference between needing 62% or 65% of the remaining delegates and the voting margins required to make that happen.

He goes onto to crunch the numbers about the percentage increase by which Hillary needs to take all the rest of the states in order to increase her relative delegate count in a very straight-forward way which even math-allergic people will get. The bottom line, Hillary can't get there from here.

And as JedReport points out in this video (which he must have stayed up most of the night creating), Barack Obama is still winning. By the rules. Yesterday doesn't change that.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

I'm Not Ready to Make Nice

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Atrios highlighted this one:

Whatever one thinks about Obama generally, this notion that opposing the Iraq war back when it was the most awesome war ever wasn't a big deal really pisses me off. It was a big deal, and I'm tired of the few courageous people such as Bob Graham who did oppose it getting written out of the script. Those were crazy days, and the "crazies" who stepped way out on that limb to yell "stop" deserve our praise and admiration for it.

The entire anti-war movement hasn't just been marginalized, it's been largely erased from our political narrative. It existed. It marched. It gave speeches. And some even cast their votes in Congress.

This is part of a discussion I had with a Hillary supporter earlier:

...she supported it without looking at the NIE file, yes, that she did do.

And people are right to talk about that.

To the extent that she supported it, she's complicit.

At the same time that she was saying that, Obama was running for office in Illinois.  In a time-period where the pressure to "be patriotic" was tremendous, he had the guts and the judgment to say:

I don't oppose all wars.

And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.

What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perles and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Roves to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.

I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the middle east, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Queda.

I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today.

You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with Bin Laden and Al Queda, thru effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.

The entire speech is available at Lawrence Lessig's site.  

Let's be clear here.  There was as much pressure on Obama to support the war as there was on Hillary.  She had access to intelligence that he did not.

He made the correct decision.

She did not and she is STILL NOT WILLING to say that she was wrong.  She has to qualify it, to equivocate, to say well if I'd known then what I know now, I wouldn't have done it.

That's the point.  Obama has the judgment part down cold.  Hillary does not.

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village

Torture:  Banned by the Media

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This makes me sick at heart. From Scott Horton's article in Harpers on Torture:

In the last eighteen months, Antonin Scalia, one of the most influential judges in American history, has twice suggested that he would turn to a fictional television character named Jack Bauer to resolve legal questions about torture. The first time was in a speech in Canada, and the second, only three weeks ago, in an interview with the BBC. This is evidence of the unprecedented influence of a television program on one of the most important legal policy issues before our country today. And it is, or should be, very troubling. [...]

I discovered that when I gave interviews to major media on this subject, any time I used the word "torture" with reference to these techniques, the interview passage would not be used. At one point I was informed by a cable news network that "we put this on international, because we can't use that word on the domestic feed."

"That word" was torture. I was coached or told that the words "coercive interrogation technique" were fine, but "torture" was a red light. Why? The Administration objected vehemently to the use of this word. After all, President Bush has gone before the cameras and stated more than three dozen times "We do not torture." By using the T-word, I was told, I was challenging the honesty of the president. You just couldn't do that.

Washington Post: A Platform for Stupidity

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The Washington Post published an article by Charlotte Allen that's amazing in its stupidity. I can't believe that they actually published it. It looks like she got the envelopes mixed up and sent it to the Washington Post instead of The Onion. My daughter, 21, and I, 50-something, are both equally insulted by this ridiculous bit of trash.

Connecticut radio talk show host Jim Vicevich has counted five separate instances in which women fainted at Obama rallies since last September. And I thought such fainting was supposed to be a relic of the sexist past, when patriarchs forced their wives and daughters to lace themselves into corsets that cut off their oxygen.

And it has nothing to do with the fact that people stood in line in bad weather for many hours in some cases, perhaps ill with colds or flu, dehydrated from lack of water and then felt faint from illness and dehydration?

Please, Charlotte Allen, go crawl back into bed and next time the urge hits you to write something, do us all a favor and hit the delete button when you're done.

UPDATE: What she said. Actually it seems Charlotte Allen is a miserable self-hating hack. Why did the WaPo give her any space at all, much less the front page?

Back to the future of gasoline

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KerryVision has a post on Bush's press conference moment where he had no clue about the projections on the future price of gasoline. What a loser. Go check it out.

But Faith uncovered something else. "And here's an oldie but goodie. Two years ago, Barack Obama recorded this message to the American people about the cost of gasoline." So check out what Barack had to say in 2006 about gasoline, energy and what we as a country should be doing.

UPDATE: From Dan Froomkin's White House Watch

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post about Bush's surprise upon hearing from a reporter yesterday that Americans are facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline: "You could've knocked Bush over with a feather. 'Oh, yeah?' he said. 'That's interesting. I hadn't heard that.'

"Uh-oh. The president, once known for his common-guy skills, sounded eerily like his old man, who in 1992 appeared surprised that supermarkets had bar-code scanners. On Wednesday, the $4-a-gallon forecasts had been on the front page of the New York Times, and on NBC's 'Today Show' and CBS's 'Early Show.' In the days before that, the prediction -- made by AAA, among others -- was in the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, even the Kansas City Star. The White House press secretary took a question about $4 gas at her Wednesday press briefing. A poll last month found that nearly three-quarters of Americans expect $4 gas."

Cross-posted from Dwahzon's Village