Saturday, August 30, 2008

The 4th Estate Is Obama's 5th Column

The 4th Estate:
Novelist Jeffrey Archer made the observation: "on May 1789, Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the 'Estates General'. The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners. Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, 'Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all.'"
The 5th Column:
Originated in a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a nationalist (fascist) general during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. As his army approached Madrid, he broadcast a message that the four columns of his forces outside the city would be supported by a "fifth column" of his supporters inside the city, intent on undermining the Republican government from within.
There are four columns arrayed against Barrack Obama in the 2008 election:
  • He is guilty of violating the unwritten taboo of RFPWB (running for president while black), otherwise known as the Bradley Effect.

  • He has violated the presumed right-of-way of the Clinton feminists, known as PUMAs (Party Unity My Ass) who maintain they would rather vote for McCain than the man who wronged their woman.

  • He is opposed by the well-funded swift-boaters 2008-version, represented by Obama Nation.

  • He is running, as are all Democrats, against the GOP dirty tricks & electoral fraud machinations in key battleground states such as Hans von Spakovsky's ‘vote-suppression agenda.’
As if that weren't enough, Barack Obama has to overcome a fifth column: an adverse press and electronic media, otherwise known as the mainstream media (MSM) or 'old media'. Why is this?

Some, to my left, would say that the old media has been bought and sold in the corporate system which means it is arrayed against Change We Can Believe In, if not all change. I'm not prepared to engage in such conspiracy theorizing.

In my view, the old media - for profit media - is not so much conspiratorial as it is dysfunctional. The MSM has a vested interest, I would argue. But its interest lies not in Obama losing, but in his not winning big. Whether you consider that the MSM is composed of pseudo-journalists, crypt-journalists, proto-journalists, or just plain stenographers, they perform like sports casters. The MSM presents electoral politics as a spectator's sport. They want to sustain the spectators' interest in the political super bowl at a high pitch. Their spinning coverage is driven by the need to pump up audience ratings. In order for them to secure their viewers', listeners' and readers' interest, the contest always has to be close. This means polls have to be, or be spun as, even. They have to attain the mythical illusion of the dead heat. This means that when any candidate emerges with a substantial lead, he has to have his alleged weaknesses discovered, listed, emphasized, scrutinized, and - most importantly - reiterated. This is not a leveling of the field: if Obama is seen as standing too tall, too colorful, too exciting, too inspiring, too photogenic, too articulate, too knowledgeable, then the field has to be tilted against so that his head not be elevated appreciably above that of his opponent.

Media figures - talking heads if you will - are less like referees than like moderators. Referees are neutral enforcers of the rules. Moderators want to moderate. They keep things moderate. Ratings-driven, moderators have to insinuate themselves into being a part of the story. They cannot merely report the story.

This is especially true for debates. A debate referee keeps the time, ensures equal time, and prevents interruptions and filibustering. Moderators jump in with their pointed questions to liven up the conversation with gotcha zingers which they think the audience wants to hear. Of course, as they do this, they are very aware that they will be part of the story. Most moderators want to be perceived as even-handed, and impartial. In order for that perception to have currency, a moderator could not allow either contestant candidate to be beaten up too much in his presence. Moderators thus becomes a part of the story. Referees do not influence the direction of the debate, but merely watch the clock. With a debate referee, only the debaters comprise the story.

So the MSM is systemically predisposed to moderating a presidential campaign so that it is close. And, as we have seen in the past, close presidential contests lend themselves to mischievous fraud in individual battle ground states. Thus, to come out on top, the Democratic ticket has to win "large"; the best antidote to Republican electoral fraud is a Democratic landslide.

Because of this array of forces against him, in a recent column I argued that Barack Obama ought to exploit his own strengths and McCain's weaknesses, emulate Republican 'Bitch-slap' behavior (disproportionate retaliation), and repudiate the Busheney legacy by humillitating McCain in a landslide victory. The best way he could telegraph his intentions, I argued, was to select General Wesley Clark as his running mate. Clark was an attack-dog whose bite on McCain was even worse than his bark. Sadly, Obama did not send this message; instead he selected Joe Biden. I am concerned.

Senator Obama is the most over-qualified candidate to emerge running for President in this generation.

Instead of repeating myself, I can find fresh support for my position from Frank Rich of the New York Times. Rich agrees with me that Obama offers presidential qualities vastly superior to McCain's. By Far. But the profit driven MSM will never allow for this possibility. Obama will have to step up his campaign style and substance:

..... It's because zero hour is here. As the presidential race finally gains the country's full attention, the strategy that vanquished Hillary Clinton must be rebooted to unceremoniously take out John McCain.

McCain should be a far easier mark than Clinton if Obama retools his act.

..... McCain's trigger-happy temperament and reactionary policies offer worse than no change. He is an unstable bridge back not just to Bush policies but to an increasingly distant 20th-century America that is still fighting Red China in Vietnam and the Soviet Union in the cold war. As the country tries to navigate the fast-moving changes of the 21st century, McCain would put America on hold.

..... What Obama also should have learned by now is that the press is not his friend.

..... What should Obama do now?

..... sharper darts at a McCain lifestyle so extravagant that we are only beginning to learn where all the beer bullion is buried.

..... most Americans, for better or worse, know who Obama is. So much so that he seems to have fought off the relentless right-wing onslaught to demonize him as an elitist alien.

..... most Americans have turned their backs on the Iraq war, no matter how much McCain keeps bellowing about "victory."

How we dig out of this quagmire is the American story that Obama must tell. It is not a story of endless conflicts abroad but a potentially inspiring tale of serious economic, educational, energy and health-care mobilization at home. We don't have the time or resources to go off on more quixotic military missions or to indulge in culture wars .....

The argument against Obama's "going negative" is that it undermines his message of "transcendent politics" and will make him look like an "angry black man." But pacifistic politics is an oxymoron, and Obama is constitutionally incapable of coming off angrier than McCain. A few more fisticuffs from the former law professor (and many more from his running mate and other surrogates) can only help make him look less skinny (metaphorically if not literally). Obama should go after McCain's supposedly biggest asset - experience - much as McCain went after Obama's crowd-drawing celebrity.

.....McCain's experience has already reached its expiration date.
  • Is a man who is just discovering the Internet qualified to lead a restoration of America's economic and educational infrastructures?

  • Is the leader of a virtually all-white political party America's best salesman and moral avatar in the age of globalization?

  • Does a bellicose Vietnam veteran who rushed to hitch his star to the self-immolating overreaches of Ahmad Chalabi, Pervez Musharraf and Mikheil Saakashvili have the judgment to keep America safe?
In other words, Obama has nothing to fear from the inferior imposter McCain. It's only because of five columns of other forces now arrayed against the Democratic challenger that the nuanced mantra that served Obama so well in the relatively genteel Democratic primary, has to be abandoned. Obama has to rise to be more blunt and to insist on exposing Busheney's and McCain's red meat.

And, Change We can Believe In has to be ditched for the brutally and insistently honest Change Before It's Too Late.

The National (Un-Scientific) Bumper Sticker Poll

The regular T.G.I.R.F. (Thank God It's Republican Friday) feature in these pages is most probably in the process of lapsing.

I mean no disrespect. I just detect a lack of interest. However, Friday found me still idly surfing the web in a bipartisan frame of mind when Jay Bookman woke me from my reveries.The deputy editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal Constitution is responsible for kicking me off my seat and on my feet in order to put into operation an idea that's been percolating for some time in my aging brain. Last Wednesday, Bookman seemed genuinely concerned:
..... I realized the other day that I see a lot of Obama bumper stickers and almost no McCain stickers. Now, given the part of town I live in, that's not surprising.

But I've asked conservative friends who live in more conservative parts of metro Atlanta, such as Cobb and Cherokee counties, whether they have seen McCain bumper stickers. And they both say no, they don't. Very few if any, they report. Not many yard signs either.

Bumper stickers don't decide elections. But I think they do accurately reflect the amount of enthusiasm generated by each candidate among his base, and that enthusiasm in turn helps drive voter turnout in November. The person with a bumper sticker on his car is more likely to vote, and more likely to encourage others to vote.

So I'd be curious - anybody out there seeing McCain bumper stickers?
That is the question that's been beguiling me recently. I don't know what a McCain bumper sticker looks like. I'm not curious enough to go shopping on the 'Net, of course. That's not the point.

My point of agreement with Bookman is this: sticking a candidate's name to your bumper or into your front lawn communicates commitment to vote. So?

Why not take an informal poll among my readers (all half-dozen of them) as to where McCainster bumper stickers are rearing their heads? Maybe, why not also shop the poll to other blogs where I occasionally read and write?

I am really curious as to how McCain-Palin will be playing in Des Moines. Some of my favorite bloggers like Utah Savage, Coyote Angry, Mad Mike, Carolina Parrothead, Wizard and especially Coleen Rowley (just to name the first who come to mind) don't exactly live in dark blue states. By responding to this poll, they could earn some solid street cred by documenting the fact that they reside and vote in battleground states, not to mention behind enemy lines. That would be huge and they're certainly entitled to the additional respect that is due them! No comfy, fair-weather, blue-state liberals should begrudge them their props.

So let's try to put up a poll with some
  • Statistics as to the ratio of Obama-Biden bumper-stickers to McCain-Palin stickers in your hood wherever it may be?

  • Trend indicators like what were the percentages dividing Kerry-Edwards bumpers from Bush-Cheney bumpers in 2004?
What I'm saying that such anecdotal data derived from our admittedly informal Bumper Sticker Poll might end up to be a better predictor of November 4th than the stupid, day-to-day crypto-polls stuck up on your teevees by snot-nosed network wannabe pundits.

Any takers?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Who Lost Georgia?

Or a lot of it?

In the wake of the Russian invasion, Georgia has been ripped and torn asunder. The tens of thousands of refugees who staggered out to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, took with them accounts of bombing, mass looting, kidnappings, shootings, arson and, on what thus far seems a smaller scale, of killing along ethnic lines. Russian troops and Ossetian looters roamed at will, conducting organized intimidation and ethnic cleansing. See the photographic evidence. The desires of the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossettians to be independent of Georgia could have been negotiated by diplomacy sensitive to the wishes of all. But now it will be resolved at the cost of much bloodshed, destruction, and lingering enmity.

Who's responsible for this human tragedy?

I lay responsibility firmly at the feet of the BushenCheneyenMcCain (BCM)school of foreign policy:
  • selective inattention to anything not starting with "I" and ending in "ran" or "raq"
  • conduct of the diplomacy of non-diplomacy - otherwise known as maintaining a deaf ear
The lack of American prior restraint on Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili is but the last in a long list of blunders of omission or commission by BCM. (It is reminiscent of Bush's lack of restraint on Ehud Olmert's attack on the Hezbollah two years ago.) What delusions was Saakashvili permitted or encouraged to entertain by his American advisors? That the USA would come to his aid if he bombarded and invaded South Ossetia? What about the self-delusions of our own BCM, committing the USA (since 2005) to the defense of Georgia when we have been up to our balls in two military occupations/wars which have over-taxed us militarily, economically, and diplomatically?

Wars are fought over differing perceptions of reality. Our misleaders are divorced from reality. And millions of my fellow Americans have not fully grasped the fact that, well into the 5th year of an occupation of Iraq, our country is no longer the leader of the free world. We are spent.

How humiliating it is, as an American, to see our leaders whining, complaining, and beseeching the Russians to behave themselves.

And so it was shocking to see the Russians ignore Condoleezza Rice's demands that they cease, desist and withdraw from hostile action in Georgia. And then she lectures them on being mired in the previous century's behavior. (Dr. Rice had to be the point 'man', because she was originally hired on as NSC director because Russia was her special area of expertise!) Why did she think she could reprimand the Russians for "Regime Change"? Who - in gawd's name - did she think would swallow such swill? Who in the world? We are not stupid.

How many of my fellow Americans are not so distracted by the Olympics to realize that their BCM government is talking loudly but carrying only a small stick? And a limp one at that?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Senator Obama, May I call you "Barry"?

What's it going to be this year, Barry?

You have to choose:
  • Is it going to be Bitch-Slap politics?
  • Or is it going to be Barackis-Dukakis politics?
Please let me know now!

This is a pivotal election. They always say that in each presidential year, of course. But this time, after a half dozen years of sustained and multifaceted constitutional crises, we are in the middle of high-stake politics - even if many of our fellow citizens seem to be oblivious of it. History, recent history, has demonstrated to Progressives that there's no pay-off in making nice. For the Republican side, the rank and file of the party-of-greed-and-war (POGAW), no holds are barred. They plan to leave nothing on the field.

Last time around, in 2004, the stakes were high. But the Dems [I don't mean that as short hand - I mean that as a derrogative] chose to whine and complain defensively about the swift boaters. However, Joshua Micah Marshall urged them to take the offensive. Democrats were after all, the insurgents. In his bitch-slap approach, Marshall merely urged Progressives to retaliate using Republican tactics: to hit the bastards hardest where they were the weakest, and to be sustained, cruel, even disproportionate in the attack. Marshall just wanted Democrats to use Republican Bitch-Slap politics:
Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

In a post-9/11 environment, obviously, this question of strength, toughness or resolve is particularly salient. That, of course, is why so much of this debate is about war and military service in the first place.

One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.

Demonstrating Kerry's unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he's made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.

Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person's supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who's receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted....

In other ways, Bush's bully-boy campaign tactics play to his strengths, albeit unstated and unlovely ones. Many of the polls of the president have shown that while people don't necessarily agree with the specific policies he's pursued abroad many also intuitively believe that there's no one who will hit back harder. There's some of that 'he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he's our son-of-a-bitch' quality to the president's support on national security issues.
That's the perennial Democratic problem, isn't it? They can't or won't show their toughness against their own adversaries across the aisle. Because they're not tough enough to call George Bush out, (like Howard Dean could) or call John McCain out (like a vice-president Wes Clark could), no one - or not enough - of my fellow Americans believe they are tough enough on terrorism. It's not as if the POGAW has made any significant progress on polishing off Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. That's the way Dems allow Republicans to define them and frame the national security issue. That's the underlying current below the surface of all the MSM bloviating.

Well, boys and girls, I see now that it can happen all over again. What I see is the beginning of a great opening and yawning implosion.
The stench of Barackis-Dukakis is in the wind. It is over-whelmingly nauseating.

I am loyal to the anti-Republican cause, so maybe I'll just STFU until after Obama goes through these cute little shenanigans about text-messaging his C-S vice-presidential selection. I'm fed up with BHO's nuances and gimmicks. I want Obama to show me the beef. I want a carnivorous vice presidential candidate who will expose the GOP's red meat. I want the unvarnished truth spoken unequivocally. At long-freaking-last. I want to be shown what I gave up Kucinich and Gravel for, six months ago.

I'm not kidding, Barry.
I am asking for a sign that change I can believe in is on its way. I'm fed up with these titillating V-P speculations. I'll not publish another column in these pages until you drop your damned shoe on the Veep selection. Pull your damned trigger. (Then, either way, I'll have plenty to say.) In the meantime, the way things are going it's Barakis-Dukakis, baby. Willie Horton is coming down the pike, de ja vue all-over-again.

So pick yourself a truth-speaking attack dog for Vice-President. Show me what you got, Barry.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wes Clark 'Not Welcome' at the D.N.C. ???

Tell us "It ain't so," Barack!?

I'm not feeling what I'm hearing.

Steve Clemons of the Huffington Post and Jay McDonough of the Progressive Politics Examiner are telling their readers that the Barack Obama team has de-selected Wes Clark for the vice-presidential spot on the 2008 ticket. In fact, they have stiffed Clark to the extent that his presence is not even welcome at the Democratic National Convention.

This decision to exclude General Clark from the '08 ticket is so incomprehensible and incredible, that I'm tempted not to believe it. Perhaps it's a subterfuge? Perhaps it's an effort toward being all the more dramatic and theatrical? A way to meet beat the press by shocking the MSM pundits out of their jocks with a last minute presentation of Wes Clark as Veep? Well, it's a slim and audacious hope, anyway.

As I have said countless times in my pages, literally no other Veep candidate takes the full measure of John McCain. And then some. Paul Abrams of The Huffington Post abundantly demonstrated this recently:

  • Clark was first in his class at West Point, won a Rhodes Scholarship, and studied (the "s" word) politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. Similar to our Dear Leader, McCain was 5th from the bottom at Annapolis. Like our Dear Leader, that is a badge of honor for him, and he recently proudly professed that he did not know very much about economics ....

  • Clark did not come from a privileged background with contacts in the Army. McCain got into Annapolis because his fathers were admirals. As he was working his way up the ladder in the Army, Clark received numerous letters highly commending his acumen and performance from commanding officers.

  • Clark became a 4-star General. McCain left the Navy because he was not going to be able to make Admiral .... McCain also crashed several of his Navy planes when they were not being shot at.

  • Clark was Supreme Allied Commander of NATO--you know, one of the pesky little multinational things where hearing someone else's perspective occasionally comes in handy .....
Contrast Clark's sustained record of professionalism and interpersonal competency with John McCain's legendary temper, reported widely by insiders from both sides of the aisle. See, for example, Christopher Hitchens in Slate! McCain's track record has long demonstrated that he is a prime, poster-boy candidate for anger management seminars.

Snipping a little here and there, I'll let Abrams continue:

  • Clark opposed the Iraq invasion. McCain plumped for it. McCain said we would be greeted as liberators. Clark does not know just who the enemy is in Iraq, and what the definition of victory is. Neither does McCain. Clark not knowing leads him to doubt the wisdom of the continuing involvement of the US. McCain not knowing makes this, well, no different from just about everything else McCain espouses so why make an exception of Iraq.

  • Clark has been married to one woman his entire adult life. McCain dumped his wife who had been severely injured in a car accident, and had waited patiently for his return from Hanoi. Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan did not like McCain for doing that. McCain committed adultery with his current wife while he was still married to his ex-wife. He also received a marriage license before he was divorced .....

  • After decades of service in the Army, Clark retired with little money, and earned a few million himself. McCain dumped his injured first wife for an heiress, flies around in a private plane, owns 8-10 houses. Oh yes, incidentally, remember when McCain was working on campaign finance reform. (Guess what form of transportation is exempt from reporting? Yep, if you use your own private plane!) .....

  • Clark truly is an independent, a non-ideologue. He joined the Democratic party because of how bad Bush and the Republicans had become. McCain calls himself a proud conservative, and has already made multiple faustian bargains on judges, on taxes, and other matters. McCain voted with Bush 95% of the time.

  • When he ran himself for President, Clark proposed a major middle class tax cut, paid for by a small increase in tax rates on the top bracket. He has not wavered. When McCain was in the Senate, he opposed the Bush tax cuts on the grounds they were fiscally irresponsible and favored the rich; when he ran for President himself McCain wavered--he backs fiscally irresponsible taxcuts for the top bracket.

  • McCain has no experience in international diplomacy, and his first instinct in any confrontation is to escalate it--whether it is his own insane temper, or bombing Iran, or the in-your-face arrogance of power displayed by our Dear Leader. Clark, who has actually studied and operated in the world at large, displays a more nuanced approach.
At this time-out interlude in the presidential campaign between the primaries and the convention, polls mean jack. But it's not moot to point out that in poll after poll McCain has a sizable double-digit edge on security issues and Iraq. Rasmussen has McCain with a 51 percent to 39 percent lead on Iraq, and a 52 to 40 lead on national security. Time shows McCain leading on Iraq 51 percent to 36 percent, and on the war on terror 56 to 29. This demonstrates that Obama's task of undermining this popular perception has not even begun.

Who doesn't like Wes Clark? The Republicans and the Russians! The Russians hate him because of his attempt to block their Landing at Priština International Airport on June 12, 1999, and the Republicans hate him because he called McCain out on Face the Nation on 19 June 2008. Clark's short list of enemies is, you could say, very diagnostic.

OTOH, his list of friends is deep and wide as the Mississippi. His site, WesPAC, has raised thousands of dollars for Democratic candidates all over the country. And the motto of WesPAC, Securing America's Future, has been accepted as the official slogan of Obama's Democratic Convention in Denver. Do Obama's Democrats appear to want to use Clark's slogans but not his substance?

I don't know what else I can say in this, probably my last column in behalf of General Clark. This is exactly what I have been saying, beginning 10 May and again on 6 June, on 30 June, on 3 August, on 6 August, on 13 August and finally today. It's not rocket science or neurosurgery. It's smart, tough politics of truth-telling.

This exclusion of Wes Clark from the 2008 ticket is extremely poorly-advised. As a vice-presidential candidate, Wes Clark is the best man to repudiate and disarm Republican militarism. If Obama does not intend to do that, then I am beginning to doubt that the changes Barack has in mind constitute change I can believe in.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Thank God It's Republican Friday
(A Regular Weeakly Feature)
Former Republican congressman endorses Obama's bid

A leading Republican moderate with a foreign policy background endorsed presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday as the latter expanded his appeal to members of both political parties.

Former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa joined a group of Republicans who said they were crossing party lines to support Obama. Leach, 65, was a foreign service officer before being elected to Congress in 1976. Leach had served 30 years before losing a re-election bid in 2006. As a moderate, he has often been at odds with the conservative GOP leadership.

In an interview with the AP, Leach predicted that many Republicans and independents would be attracted by Obama's campaign but said his decision to endorse a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time wasn't easy.
Part of it is political parties are a distant analog to families and you really hate to step outside a family environment. [but] for me, the national interest comes before party concerns, particularly internationally …. I'm convinced that the national interest demands a new approach to our interaction with the world ….. There's a distinction between trumpeting issues and realistically looking at effectiveness …. I have never known a time period where the American brand has been in less repair ….

We do need a new direction in American policy, and Obama has a sense of that. He recognizes that a long-term occupation of Iraq is not only expensive, it's extremely dangerous to the American interests … He also recognizes that it's preferable to speak with potential adversaries rather than simply shun them ….
If you ask Americans of any political persuasion - conservative, liberal or moderate - whether they'd rather see us lead the world with allies or alone, most people instinctively say we're better off with allies … The public does understand that something is not right about our policies today.
Barack Obama is on a safari this general election, bagging one elephant at a time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

John McCain Is the Natural Heir to the Bush Family Tradition in Foreign Policy

An Embarassingly Pathetic and Ludicrous Strain of Bald-Faced Hypocrisy

I'll begin by showing John McCain my map of Georgia.

I'm speaking of the Bush I, Bush II and Bush III tradition of their writing checks the American economy can't cash, of their making promises they can't keep and their issuing ultimatums that go ignored without consequences.

It was George Herbert Walker Bush who urged the Kurds and the Shiites to rebel against Saddam in 1991, suggesting that the
Iraqi military and the Iraqi people... take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.
When the Kurds tried to do just that, and begged for help, the best 41 could offer was sympathy. The Iraqi officer corps decided to remain loyal to Saddam.

In 2005, his erst- worst-while son George W made a commitment in our name when he went to Georgia, and said to an ecstatic crowd,
The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone. Americans respect your courageous choice for liberty. And as you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you.... Free societies are peaceful societies. And by extending liberty to millions who have not known it, we will advance the cause of freedom, and we will advance the cause of peace ..... The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia must be respected -- the territorial [sic] and sovereignty of Georgia must be respected by all nations.
And now comes John McCain, who never saw a war he didn't love, following along with a ginned-up statement at yesterday's town meeting at the Expo Center in York Pennsylvania. He said that Georgian President Saakashvili
... knows that the thoughts and prayers and support of the American people are with that brave little nation as they struggle today for their freedom and independence. He wanted me to say thank you, to give you his heartfelt thanks for the support of the American people…. Today, We Are All Georgians

The impact of Russian actions goes beyond their threat to democratic Georgia. Russia used violence against Georgia to send a signal to any country that chooses to associate with the West. We must make clear to Russian leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require respect for the values, stability and peace of that world.
It is not only just that their policies are cumulatively mistaken and wrong-headed. We are at the end of our rope in terms of international and national resources. I do not have to detail the catastrophic loss in world esteem and prestige we have suffered since the coronation of this enfant terrible from Crawford. I do not have to repeat a litany of the extravagant expenditures in terms of blood, treasure and military assets and materiel we have squandered in his elective invasion and occupation of Iraq. It's a minimalist statement to say our resources and assets are over-extended, and that our occupation of Iraq has overstayed its welcome.

It is that these clowns and imposters - George and John - are so incompetent in their thinking. I'm using their words as an index of their thinking ability, or lack thereof. Watch George try to put together his reaction to the Russian invasion of Georgia. He struggles with and mangles a statement prepared for him by others, at one place juxtaposing Russian Democracy [sic!] with Georgian Democracy! It's a pathetic attempt at communicating defiance and determination.

Or take McCain! John's treatise on the geopolitical realities of Georgia which were ripped intact from the pages of Wikipedia.

Please don't anyone tell me Americans have the government they deserve. I didn't do anything to deserve this atrocious occupation of the capital of my country! For almost a whole decade! Where, oh God, has the sense of self-respect of my fellow Americans gone? To my fellow countrymen who voted for Bush twice I ask,

Why do you hate America?
When will you show her some respect?
Elect the Barack Obama - Wesley Clark American Restoration Team.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Idée Fixe or Fixed Bayonet?

A Mid-Week Rant!

Vig, I gotta tell ya: Listening to Hillary and her latest demands of Obama, I feel like I'm watching the ending of a Sharon Stone thriller, where the character Stone plays refuses to die, unexpectedly revives, and searches for the nearest weapon with which to dismember her opponent.
Hillary has seized upon a weapon which she is wielding while assuring Obama she is of friendly intent. Her latest weapon is disingenuously employed in a cleverly disguised attempt to destroy the 2008 Democratic Party's Nominating convention.

Hillary's scenario for resurrecting herself politically is to use her supporters as a cover for her continuing contention that she is the best candidate to be the 2008 Democratic Party's Presidential nominee. If she fails to steal the 2008 nomination from Obama, then it must be accomplished in 2012, and so her scheme involves "Shock and Awe" in Denver that she hopes will prove helpful both now and, if necessary, in 2012..

In true Rovian fashion, Hillary comes to Obama and claims that her only goal in requesting that her supporters be given large amounts of televised opportunities to throw the convention into emotional uproar and needless rancor is that she wants "to help unite the party".

Vig, Hillary says that her supporters remain upset at the outcome of the Democratic primary races and need to have an "Airing", in Denver, at the 2008 National Democratic Convention, of their grievances. Hillary states that once her supporters have publicly displayed their rage and fury, they will then want to enthusiastically "come together in support of Obama".

Oh wait, she continues, there is one other small thing: her supporters want to put Hillary's name into nomination at the convention, after the "Airing", in order to achieve party unity.

Oh, and wait just another New York minute: there's yet one more thing that Hillary's supporters want: (now, picture this scene, Vig): just as the fevered enthusiasm of Hillary's supporters is building into a movement to crown Hillary as the 2008 Democratic Party's Presidential nominee arrives, Hillary will seize the microphone and suggest to the attendees that they should select Obama "by acclimation" as the Democratic Party's Presidential nominee!

By placing herself at the microphone, Hillary succeeds in orchestrating Obama's nomination, turning the attention away from him and onto herself as she pretends to be a gracious political "midwife" to the accomplishing of Obama's nomination.

Hillary's requests, couched in terms of the perceived needs of her "suffering" supporters, are solely designed to aggrandize HER accomplishments, and can only sow dissension, intensify hurt and angry feelings among her supporters, and create chaos within the convention itself, and within the hearts and minds of the viewing public.

If she truly believes that her supporters need to experience a therapy session, she and her supporters need to hire a clinical psychologist, or other qualified mental health professional, and talk together in the presence of a trained facilitator. Staging a televised " free-for-all" pseudo group therapy "venting" session in the name of unifying the Democratic party, is a disguised attempt to sabotage the pitiful attempts being made to unify a Democratic Party, still bleeding from the wounds Hillary inflicted upon Obama in the primaries.

Hillary's scheme is a pathetic attempt to publicly force the convention's delegates and the viewing audience to celebrate Hillary's accomplishments while minimizing those of Obama. It is an hijacking of the Democratic Party's convention, and has one purpose only: she wants to ensure that Obama will be defeated by McCain. Her motives are so transparently clear, it would be laughable were Hillary not so intent on positioning herself for another run for the Presidency in 2012 that she is once again attempting to destroy the Democratic Party and its rightful nominee.

Yet again, Hillary Rodham Clinton's ruthless Republican roots shine through her lies: she, like far too many Republicans, knows no shame in her personal pursuit of political power.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Putin Rimes with Stalin

"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul."
George W. Bush, Brdo Castle, Slovenia (June 16, 2001)

And Georgia is the Finland of our day.

On Sunday Zbigniew Brzezinski, the elder statesman who was national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, was interviewed about the Russian invasion of Georgia. Here are my excerpts:

Fundamentally at stake is what kind of role Russia will play in the new international system.... more ominous is the analogy of what Putin is doing vis-a-vis Georgia to what Stalin did vis-a-vis Finland: subverting by use of force the sovereignty of a small democratic neighbor. In effect, morally and strategically, Georgia is the Finland of our day

The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin's control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/ Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.

..... If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine.

..... The United States, particularly, shoulders the major burden of mobilizing an collective international response. This invasion of Georgia by Russia is a very sad commentary on eight years of self-delusion in the White House regarding Putin and his regime. Two memorable comments stand out.
  • First, when Bush first met Putin and said he looked into his soul and could trust him.
  • Second, not long ago, Condi Rice claimed that American relations with Russia have never been better in history!
..... The question is not what obligation the West may have at the moment. The question is about our longer term interest .... Therefore it is all the more important that Russia be stopped now by mobilizing a concerted, global effort to oppose and condemn the Russian invasion.

..... The West desisted from extending the NATO "membership action plan" to Georgia -- a preparatory stage for becoming a member -- out of deference to Russian objections. It is now clear that the deference shown to Putin, in the face of his obvious ambitions, has been counterproductive. In view of what has happened, NATO ought to extend the membership action plan to Georgia, therefore reinforcing the commitment NATO made in Bucharest last March to the effect that NATO intends, at some future point, to include Georgia.

So is this the 3 A.M. call we have all been waiting for? It comes exactly seven years to the day Bush failed to read his President's Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, entitled Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US. This time our president was on another holiday, at the Chinese Olympics. Now, as then, there's little evidence Busheney were prepared to answer their phones. And our nation, the erstwhile leader of the free world, has been caught ill prepared to deal with a real world crisis. This situation could have been anticipated. A little diplomatic restraint with Putin and a lot on Saakashvili could have prevented this disaster. But that would have required our strategic thinkers to have their eyes on the big picture. Instead? We are up to our tits in Bush's 'vanity war' his unneccessary and useless Iraquagmire. Our Neroic figure in the White House has fiddled away 'the defining years' of the 21st Century, building a bridge back to the 20th century's horrors. We are arrived at the doorsteps of a new cold war.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Thank God It's Republican Friday (TGIRF)!

MoveOn ad features pro-Obama Republican

John Weiler is a Southern California police detective, a Republican, an Air Force veteran and self-described conservative. He is starring in a television commercial in support of Barack Obama. Weiler, 43, stepped into his moment of fame because he didn't want his pregnant wife to attend an Obama volunteers meeting last fall by herself:
She's a Democrat; I'm a Republican. It makes for a fun marriage.
He said he was open to aspects of Obama's message that matched his own — moving away from divisive politics, opposition to the war in Iraq, and support for veterans. After the volunteers meeting, he said, he began to pay closer attention, listening to Obama's ads and watching him in debates. Weiler says in his own ad,
I'm a veteran, I served under President Ronald Reagan and under the first President Bush. I've been a Republican since before I could actually vote. We need somebody in the White House that is strong. We need somebody who's gonna represent the left and the right, the Democrat and the Republican, everybody. I'm a lifelong Republican and I'm voting for Barack Obama.
He served in the Air Force from 1983 to 1989, leaving the service as a staff sergeant. He said he has two nephews in the Air Force and one nephew attending Army tanker school and has grown to oppose the war in Iraq.
We need to get out. We're not going to settle the problems that the country has. ... They've been fighting like that for thousands of years and a couple of months of American occupation is not going to change an entire life of political and religious views.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Re-Thinking Afghanistan

"He who would defend everything ends up defending nothing."
(Advice to his generals
by Frederick the Great,
the 18th-century Prussian monarch who transformed his kingdom
into the modern German state)
I was once all-aboard with George W. Bush and his vendetta against "terrorists of global reach". When he gave that 20-September 2001 speech I was with him. I believed that if there were to be a silver lining in the clouds of smoke over New York City, it was going to be a revolution in American foreign policy.

In my hope, I was audacious enough to believe that American foreign policy was poised on the precipice of change in the direction of 'an even handedness' with respect to Israel and Palestine. Naively, I believed 'global reach' meant reaching to our shores, not to each and every shore. Palestine only had to do with terrorists of local or even of only regional reach. The PLA and Hamas, were locked into the non-global goals of liberating the West Bank and Gaza. Even Hezbollah's goals were limited to Lebanonese politics and to liberating Lebanon's turf occupied by Israel. Motivated by the overriding sense of crisis, it appeared to me that George Bush was going to lean on the Israelis to stop their ethnic cleansing of Palestinian lands and even coerce a two-state solution, which could be the beginning of a regional thaw and détente in this tinderbox. If there were to be a road to Baghdad, it was going to have to run through Jerusalem, because without making friends and allies in the neighborhood, it wasn't going to be easy to make progress on changing out Saddam Hussein's regime.

But Afghanistan was different. Afghanistan was on the front burner. Osama admitted to having attacked us. His base, al Qaeda, had trained and organized the 911 strike force. The Taliban government gave aid, protection, and comfort to al Qaeda. Thus , to my vindictive and nationalistic mind, if all of Afghanistan did not become instantly paved, our GOP leaders in Washington weren't doing their jobs. The attack on the World Trade Center was our second Pearl Harbor: retaliation, revenge, and retribution were mandated from a great power - especially massive retaliation and a determined and sustained pursuit of Osama. I still feel that way.


However, after Bush's six-year detour into Iraq, Osama bin Laden's trail has grown cold. Bush promised us he would get Osama 'dead or alive'. He promised us Osama 'could run but he could not hide'. Some where along the line, Bush admitted to all of us that he "didn't think too much about Osama anymore". By now, it's not known if Osama is running or hiding or not. It's not clear to us that he hasn't died a peaceful and natural death with a smile of satisfaction on his lips. Maybe somewhere in Pakistan.

Early on, our NATO allies were sympathetic and united with us. Article IV (An attack on one is an attack on all) kicked in. But Bush's senseless and unprovoked invasion and interminable occupation of Iraq has poisoned the well of Allied unity. Today, there is wide spread resentment in Europe and Canada about the Afghanistan mission, predictably because our government hasn't cared enough about it to send its very best. Instead it has squandered our limited resources of blood and treasure in the deserts of Mesopotamia. That's why Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon say, Of Course Iraq Made It Worse:
No doubt the United States would have had a serious struggle against radical Islam after Sept. 11 under any circumstances. But the occupation of Iraq, by appearing to confirm bin Laden’s arguments about America’s antipathy toward the Muslim world, has had an incendiary effect and made matters dramatically worse.

The invasion of Iraq was the wrong answer to the terrorist challenge, for which we will pay a high price for years to come. The continued need to defend that move by the administration and its partisans is preventing the nation from crafting the necessary strategy to meet the terrorist challenge and make Americans safer. The evidence is at hand.
Barack Obama has been consistently right in maintaining that since 911, Afghanistan has always been the central front on terrorism. However, after seven years of desultory and half-hearted effort by the Busheney presidency, the Afghanistan theatre has morphed from its original concept of the pursuit of bin Laden and his merry band of outlaws. Mission creep has acquired the goals of re-defeating the Taliban and destroying the opium poppy industry.

I am thinking it's too late in the day to think about surging in Afghanistan. According to U.S. counter insurgency doctrine, however, Afghanistan would require at least 400,000 troops to even have a chance of "winning" the war. Adding another 10,000 U.S. troops will have virtually no effect.

I hate to see Barack Obama making campaign promises he can't keep as President. Expanding the war into Pakistan seems like a repeat of the attempt to rescue the Vietnamese war with invasions/bombings of Laos and Cambodia. Remember the deeper disasters those desperate gambits produced?

As Frederick the Great says, we can't defend everything. Our window of opportunity to fix Afghanistan has passed. There are simply not enough dollars and boots left to put on the ground. My concern is that Obama not be blamed in 2012 for the inevitable negotiated conclusion with the Taliban.

The Obama-Clark administration should make it clear to all Americans from the start that the Busheney era has been the Humpty-Dumpty Presidency:

Busheney sat on the wall,
Busheney had a great fall.
All of NATO's horses

All of NATO's men
Couldn't put Busheney's mess
Back together again.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Re-Thinking Barack Obama's Vice-President Choice

No Future Presidents Need Apply?

I remain steadfastly on the record for Barrack Obama selecting someone for VPOTUS who will help him govern as opposed to helping him get elected. That's because I see that his greatest challenges will be coming at him in the next four years as opposed to the next four months. Such is the ruination left behind by the Busheney epoch that:
  • The Obama ticket should win a comfortable margin even among the least informed sectors of the electorate.
  • Cleaning up the mess from the Republican years is too much for one full-time chief executive.
If Obama demonstrates, partly by his choice for Vice-President, that he means business as far as sanitation engineering in national and international policies, he should have no difficulty in being elected. Even more than in his Cabinet, Barrack needs to assign the Vice-Presidency to a member of the Democratic "varsity".

To briefly review possible criterion for running mates:
  1. Someone to balance the ticket by clenching the electoral votes of one or more battleground states.
  2. Someone who can be trusted to carry and share a substantial burden of governing with the President-Elect.
  3. Someone to be groomed to run for president following the term of the Presidential nominee.

I have already stated my reasons for thinking that the short list of first-stringers for this position has to include General Wesley Clark. Wes definitely scores high in reason #2.

In the Los Angeles Times this morning, a highly thinkable alternative was suggested by UCLA political science professor Thomas Schwartz who says, VP Wanted: No future Presidents Please. Schwartz builds a historical argument as to what bad presidential candidates Vice Presidents make.

Balancing the presidential ticket has been the traditional selection criterion for Veeps, he says. Eisenhower broke that mold when he selected Richard Nixon, who was groomed to be his successor. "The pattern was set," says Schwartz, "The vice presidential nomination came to be seen as the anointment of an electoral succession." However the results were mixed. Candidates apprenticing as vice-presidents were only 50% accepted by the electorate. Despite the Bush and Cheney struck another model as co-presidents. Still, the model of vice president as future president is still currently widely held. Not a good idea Schwartz argues,
the pattern is now so ingrained that if McCain or Obama puts a plausible electoral successor on the ticket, he will have partly rigged the 2016 election, loading it like a bad pair of dice. No one is smart enough to choose the best candidate for president eight years in advance.
While I may quarrel with Schwartz's historical arguments, I certainly have to admire his recommendation for Barrack Obama's considerations:
A better running mate is a distinguished elder statesman eminently qualified to assume the presidency but too old to run in eight years …

For Obama, an obvious choice is Bob Graham, also born in 1936. The former Florida governor and U.S. senator (and more recently a professor at Harvard) is a renowned expert on intelligence policy and a marvelously articulate speaker. His own 2004 presidential bid fizzled, but in part for a commendable reason: Unlike John Kerry and Howard Dean, Graham unequivocally opposed the Iraq war all along.

More often mentioned as a running mate for Obama, former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia resembles Graham in age (69), region and national security expertise. But Nunn lacks Graham's charisma and breadth of experience, and although he too opposed a war, it was the wrong one: He opposed the Persian Gulf War of 1991, President George H.W. Bush's geopolitical masterpiece that saved not only Kuwait but the United Nations.
I certainly agree that Bob Graham should rank over Sam Nunn on Barack's short list (by a whole lot). Also, picking Graham over Wes Clark could smooth Clinton feathers:
For Obama , the conventional choice of an electoral successor creates a dilemma. He does not want Hillary Clinton hanging around the White House (with her connubial baggage) for eight years, and he knows that her formidable talents would help him more in the Senate or the State Department. But if he chooses any other plausible electoral successor, he unfairly hurts Clinton's prospects in 2016, infuriating her present fans. Even more than McCain, Obama has no good alternative to the choice of an elder statesman.
In other words, an elder statesman like Bob Graham would not hurt Hillary's aspirations in 2012. I still like Wes Clark, but Bob Graham is totally thinkable!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

War Made Easy - Film at 11

War Made Easy
reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations.

Guided by media critic Norman Solomon’s meticulous research and tough-minded analysis, the film presents disturbing examples of propaganda and media complicity from the present alongside rare footage of political leaders and leading journalists from the past, including Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, dissident Senator Wayne Morse, and news correspondents Walter Cronkite and Morley Safer.

Order this DVD. Where else can you get 72 minutes of truth for $20?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Meat, The Press

The first thing you have to say about the once-venerable Meet The Press, is that we all think we personally knew Tim Russert, and we can tell that Tom Brokaw is no Tim Russert.

In today's edition, Brokaw lost control. He let Joseph Lieberman walk all over John Kerry. Joe, who really couldn't put together a paragraph length statement on any subject, was allowed to run up his minutes of noise by interrupting Kerry's statements. It was so pathetically transparent, that Trophy Wife was totally disgusted and turned off the TIVO-ed MTP and switched to Animal Planet. Meat the Press was so zoo-like, it was 90 seconds before I recognized that the channel had been changed.

But, in truth, it could be argued that the polite and urbane Kerry allowed himself to be walked on. He also missed key Democratic talking points every minute and apparently couldn't hear our cues shouted at the TV. To pick just one egregious example, there was this exchange which caused such an outburst from us that Ballou started barking (again!).

We're going to get to all those issues, but I also want to raise what a surrogate for Senator Obama had to say to my friend Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation." This is former General Wesley Clark talking about John McCain. He said, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president." He described him as untested and untried. With all due respect, Senator Kerry, he could have been talking about your qualifications. You're a Vietnam veteran...
Yeah, I, I don't agree. I don't agree with Wes Clark's comment. I think it was entirely inappropriate. I have nothing but enormous respect for John McCain's service. I had the privilege of standing with John McCain in the, in the cell in Hanoi when we visited there together, when we worked on the issue of Vietnam together. It was an emotional moment. I, I have awe for John McCain's experience as a prisoner of war, and he, and he does understand duty and service. But...
But unless...
Unless I missed it, though, Senator Obama has not specifically rebuked Wesley Clark's comments.
Oh, I think they--I thought--I did, and others did, and I thought Obama had at the time.
And Kerry goes on to change the subject. He slunk away without uttering single word about the context of General Wesley Clark's comments which included respect for McCain's service and heroism.

Even more outrageous, John Kerry never stood up for his comrade-in-arms. Not one mention of:
  • Clark's entrance into West Point at the age of 17, where he graduated first in his class.

  • His record at West Point which won him a Rhodes scholarship, and in 1966 he headed to England for two years of study at Oxford University. He passed his Oxford exams in two years and left to go to Army Ranger School for 72 days of training before leaving for Vietnam.

  • While he was a 25-year old Army captain in Vietnam, Clark commanded of a mechanized infantry company, One day, while on patrol in the jungle looking for Viet Cong, he was shot four times. Continuing to command his troops despite his wounds, he gave a series of orders, and his soldiers quickly overran the enemy positions. His bravery in battle earned him a Silver Star.

  • He was the commanding general of the Army's National Training Center during the Persian Gulf War, and later conducted three emergency deployments to Kuwait as the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

  • In 1994, General Clark was named director for strategic plans and policy of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  • A few months later, General Clark worked out a peace plan for Bosnia that would prove militarily enforceable.

  • After serving as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Southern Command (1997), General Clark was selected for one of the top posts in the military: Supreme Allied Commander of NATO - a position first held by General Eisenhower.

  • As Supreme Allied Commander, General Clark commanded NATO forces during the war in Kosovo - and won the war in a way few thought possible: with air power alone, without a single allied combat death, while holding together the alliance of 19 nations, and isolating Milosevic from his allies.

  • General Clark ended 38-year career of public service in the United States Army, as a four-star general, a trainer of soldiers, a leader of troops, equally accomplished in war and in peace.
In short, Wesley Clark's distinguished career certainly and uniquely qualifies him to take the full measure of a poseur like John McCain.

But what is such a freaking stunner is that none of this occurred to John Kerry.

My pages have been all about re-starting the 21st Century

Why not dedicate one page to re-starting the 2008 Major League Baseball Season?

At the midway this year, the All-Star Break, the L.A. Dodgers were one game short of playing .500 ball. The good news was they were the same distance from 1st place in the National League's Western Division. The bad news has been injuries to Nomo Garciaparra and especially to Rafael Furcal.

But the really, really bad news was that Andruw Jones has been drawing a salary of $14,726,910 for playing baseball this year. $14 Million and he's hitting .161! The traditional standard for measuring absolute failure at hitting has been the Mendoza Line: is the batter hitting his weight? Since Jones weighs 240 lbs, that means he's only been hitting 2/3rds of his weight! At the plate he's been looking hopeless, if not legally blind. Additionally. Jones' multi-year contract at that level was killing the Dodgers' trading opportunities for the rest of the season. Those of us out here who bleed Dodger Blue had given up on all hope.

And then ...
A miracle!
Future Hall-of-Famer Manny Ramirez falls into our laps! Manny makes $20,000,000 this year, but the Dodgers don't have to pay a cent! The Boston Red Sox were fed up with him and gave him up for a couple of mitts and a bat or two.

Ramirez is a contact hitter. He doesn't like to go deep into the strike zone, but hits the first pitch close to it. He's a smart hitter who loves to play the game. Even when he strikes out, he's enjoys the play. Because of that, Ramirez appears immune to pressure, and hits well in the clutch with runners on. On his current season, including his time with Bosox, he's hitting 310, with 22 home runs. That's twice as much as any other Dodger in 2008. He's hit two homers in his first three games in L.A.! He's picked up the entire Dodger line-up.

The heck with the Olympics! Let the 2008 Season begin!