Thursday, December 31, 2009

Beijing holds the mortgage for the "greatest empire since Rome"

No malevolent fate has brought about the United States' dependency on foreign nations, says Pat Buchanan. We did it to ourselves. In A Decade of Self-Delusion, Buchanan describes the current state of the nation. Here are excerpts:

• • •

No nation in modern history, save for the late Soviet Union, has seen so precipitous a decline in relative power in a single decade. The United States began the century with a budget surplus. We ended with a deficit of 10% of gross domestic product, which will be repeated in 2010. Where the economy was at full employment in 2000, 10% of the labor force is out of work today and another 7% is underemployed or has given up looking for a job.

Between one-fourth and one-third of all U.S. manufacturing jobs have disappeared in 10 years, the fruits of a free-trade ideology that has proven anything but free for this country. Our future is being outsourced -- to China. ...

The dollar lost half its value against the euro. Once the most self-sufficient republic in history, which produced 96% of all it consumed, the U.S.A. is almost as dependent on foreign nations today for manufactured goods, and the loans to pay for them, as we were in the early years of the republic. What the British were to us then, China is today. Beijing holds the mortgage and grows impatient as we endlessly borrow on equity and refuse to begin paying it down. The possibility exists of an eventual run on the dollar or even a U.S. debt default.

Who did this to us? We did it to ourselves. We sold ourselves a lot of snake oil about the Global Economy, interdependence, free trade and "it doesn't make any difference where goods are produced." The George W. Bush Republicans ran up the deficit with tax cuts, two wars and a splurge in social spending to rival the guns-and-butter of the Great Society.

Abandoning its role as the fellow who comes and takes away the punch bowl when the party's getting good, the Fed kept the money flowing fast and free, creating the tech bubble that burst in Y2K and the stock and housing bubble that burst at decade's end. ...

After Sept. 11, the nation was united behind a president as it had not been since Pearl Harbor. But instead of focusing on the enemies who did this to us, we took Osama bin Laden's bait and plunged into a war in Iraq that bled and divided us, alienated Europe and the Arab world, and destroyed the Republican Party's reputation as the reliable custodian of national security and foreign policy. ...

With nearly 200,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and another 30,000 more on the way, al-Qaida is now in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa, while the huge U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq serves as its recruiting poster.

Again, it is not a malevolent fate that has done this to us. We did it to ourselves. We believed all that hubristic blather about our being the "greatest empire since Rome," the "indispensable nation" and "unipolar power" advancing to "benevolent global hegemony" in a series of "cakewalk" wars to "end tyranny in our world."

After a decade of self-delusion and self-indulgence, we must stop deceiving ourselves. ... We have a government that cannot balance its books, defend its borders or win its wars. ... At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the question is not whether we will preside over the creation of a New World Order, but whether America's decline is irreversible.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don't listen to those "psychos"

Even when we're told pointblank why "they hate us," just don't pay any attention to them. When the latest would-be hijacker, who failed to bring down a Northwest airplane, says that he wanted to retaliate for the bombing of Yemen a couple of weeks ago, just ignore his claim, and don't listen to what he says are his motives. We know better.

We know that they hate us because they are evil, wicked, godless people. They hate us for our "freedoms." They hate us because they don't have the love of our God in their hearts. They're simply vicious people who hate the Baby Jesus. So, what can you expect from them?

There's no reason to listen to anything they have to say. Just keep bombing the crap out of one country after another. Just go kill the next eight children who get in the way. And when someone like Congressman Ron Paul reasons that the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are in their seventh and ninth years, and that Muslims want us out of their countries, well, just throw the "anti-Semite" smear at him and dismiss his rational assertions. That's what grown-up, mature people do, isn't it?

It's what the desperate Ben Stein does, who could not deny the logic of Paul's remarks. Instead, on CNN's Larry King show, Stein had to resort to playing the anti-Semite card. When asked why terrorists from around the world are targeting the United States, instead of other free societies, in fact, ones geographically closer to them, Stein's pathetic response was, "because they're psychos."

Never did Stein explain the connection between desiring the United States to cease waging useless wars and the charge of anti-Semitism. Surely he was not suggesting that when Americans wish to operate in their own country's self-interest, they must not be allowed that right, since it might interfere with the interests of a foreign country, that is, Israel. Is Stein saying that any American who would put their own country's interests first is, ipso facto, an anti-Semite? Is this what he was suggesting?

In Congressman Ron Paul 'Anti Semitic' for Questioning, writer Grant Lawrence claims that anyone who questions why we need to occupy foreign lands in the Middle East is in danger of being labeled a Terrorist Supporter or Sympathizer and might wind up placed on a Watch List or a No Fly List. The other danger is being labeled an "anti-Semite."

Ron Paul has been warning about the possibility of retaliatory attacks even before the 9/11 disaster. But people who are bombed, writes Lawrence, are not supposed to strike back. "That is terrorism." How could anyone expect the bombing of Yemen to make the people of Yemen and their supporters "mad as hell" and to want to strike back? Obviously, only "psychos" would be roused to retaliate. And, obviously, continues Lawrence, "Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, and the people of Yemen are also crazed racists because they don't like to be bombed and occupied. So Ben Stein's reasoning here is on solid ground." These people, too, must be "anti-Semites."

In a commentary for The Examiner, Thomas Eddlem writes that Stein denies the possibility that anyone could be motivated to attack the United States "because our government is in the business of blowing up people across the Middle East."

Eddlem raises the question of how Ben Stein feels about George Washington's admonition for the United States to stay out of foreign entanglements. Stein answers that question on his blog, in which he posted remarks the day after his appearance on King's show. His response goes something like this: a person is an anti-Semite only if he applies George Washington's principle to all nations, which would include Israel.

Get it? It's okay to follow Washington's advice, as long as you don't apply it to Israel. If you do apply it to Stein's favored land, then, like Ron Paul, you're an anti-Semite. Get it?
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

From Bush to Obama: It's deja vu all over again

What a remarkable journey these last three years have been. Those of us who, under no circumstances, would have voted for Barack Hussein Obama, are not shocked by what we're now witnessing. Some of us are, nevertheless, mildly surprised at the turn of events. I guess we expected The Great One to abide by his endlessly referenced mandates for "change," if for no more than appearance sake, to mollify his constituents and fans. As it turns out, most of his constituency is unfazed that the Warmonger-in-Chief and Peace Prize fraud has stripped off his mask.

Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report, and an unapologetic man of the left, disdained Obama right from the beginning. Even before the beginning. Viewing Obama, the candidate, in early 2008, as no more than a symbolic tool who was being "imposed on the African American polity by corporate forces in the Democratic party," Ford denounced those whom he called "unprincipled Black Left misleaders," who willingly contorted their politics "beyond recognition."

Ford detected the imperialist hawk in Obama, in spite of The Great One's early declarations to the contrary. In a recent column, he writes about the "legions of Obama-smitten activists" who shut down their antiwar activities for fear of harming the Hero's presidential prospects. This Hero who presumably shared their abhorrence of the chaos that the Bush machine had perpetrated on our country and the world. Or had these deluded souls simply gotten themselves ensnared in the well-known trap of the lover, who invests his own meaning in every utterance and gesture of the beloved?

Ford wonders if these "peacenik groupies" realize the degree to which they are held in contempt by Obama's "funders and packagers." He writes:

With the president’s hearty embrace on December 1, of not only current US aggressions in South Asia but the entirety of the glorious rise of US global hegemony since the end of World War Two, it should now be clear to even the most dense among self-styled “progressives” that Obama was never worth a damn.

Years ago, observes Ford, Obama was already engaging in "imperial speak," in his discussions about Afghanistan, and warned that "under the Bin-Laden-Might-Be-There-Doctrine, he would refuse to respect the sovereignty of Pakistan." Obama groupies fooled themselves, says Ford, and then proceeded to fool lots of other people.

In My friend the president, Glenn Greenwald describes what he calls the emotional attachments of those Obama followers who express anger at critics of their Leader. He writes:

These outbursts include everything other than arguments addressed to the only question that matters: are the criticisms that have been voiced about Obama valid? Has he appointed financial officials who have largely served the agenda of the Wall Street and industry interests that funded his campaign? Has he embraced many of the Bush/Cheney executive power and secrecy abuses which Democrats once railed against -- from state secrets to indefinite detention to renditions and military commissions? Has he actively sought to protect from accountability and disclosure a whole slew of Bush crimes? ...

Are the criticisms of his escalation of the war in Afghanistan valid, and are his arguments in its favor redolent of the ones George Bush made to "surge" in Iraq or Lyndon Johnson made to escalate in Vietnam?

Ultimately, Obama's defenders do not care about any of these issues. Greenwald observes that these adherents simply believe that "It's just wrong, morally, ethically and psychologically, to criticize the President." This is a sentiment reminiscent of that which engulfed the tenure of George W. Bush.

The traditionalist pastor, Chuck Baldwin, is one who disdained the Bush administration right from its beginning, and frequently wrote of his aversion to the blind, even simple-minded worship of this imperial warmonger. He spoke of Christians especially and their hero worship of Bush:

They acted as if he were a god. Life-size posters filled Christian bookstores. Religious broadcasters and televangelists swooned over him like 16-year-old girls used to swoon over Elvis Presley. Pastors invoked his name almost as a prayer. The Religious Right acted like they had died and gone to Heaven. In the minds of Christian conservatives, G.W. Bush could do no wrong.

Baldwin called this "sophomoric silliness" the expression of a Religious Right that had become "blind, impotent lackeys to a big government, big-spending Orwellian and inept administration." He claimed that the Bush administration was maybe "one of the worst in U.S. history." Baldwin cites a similar sycophantic behavior on the political left, which anointed Barack Obama as President. "Obama was not inaugurated," he says, "he was canonized."

Baldwin, a staunch constitutionalist, is not surprised that the political left appears interested in constitutional principles only when it is a Republican trampling on them. Where is the outrage, he asks, against the Military Commissions Act, the suspension of Habeas Corpus, and other government intrusions into Americans' private lives, that were first institutionalized under George W. Bush and now continue under Barack Obama?

"For eight years," Baldwin proclaims, "Christian conservatives had 'Lord Bush.' Now, liberals have 'Lord Obama.' Seems to me that gods come pretty cheap these days." He rhetorically asks:

What in the world has happened to us? How is it that otherwise intelligent and educated people can so quickly forget virtually everything their principles and values taught them, and become little more than clumsy chumps for a Presidential administration – any Presidential administration?

In The Bush-Obama War, Baldwin tells of his travels across the country during the 2008 campaign season, where Democrats tried to convince him that Obama would end Bush's wars. Baldwin protested that whoever won the presidency, the wars would continue. "Now they know I told the truth," he says.

Baldwin mocks Obama's West Point speech, in which the Leader revealed that the Taliban is a "ruthless, repressive and radical movement." Baldwin declares, "This is the same Taliban that the US government SUPPORTED, back when it was fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan." And, further, concerning the United States' connection to the Taliban:

Obama even had the unmitigated gall to criticize the Afghan government for being "hampered by corruption, the drug trade." Need I remind readers that for all its faults, when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, there was virtually NO DRUG TRADE coming out of Afghanistan? For all intents and purposes, the Taliban destroyed the drug business in Afghanistan. Opium and drug production only returned to Afghanistan after US forces displaced the Taliban. In fact, drug production in Afghanistan takes place right under the noses (no pun intended) and with the passive compliance of US forces.

The primary mechanism for control of our society is the tool of war. Without keeping us at war, the omnipotent elites, who will not be denied, would not possess the power to manipulate a population that willingly remains quiescent. Most of the significant political transformations of our society have been done in the name of war. Don't question! We are at war!

The warmonger Obama, who indicates his intention to expand US military intervention even beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan, serves the same interests as those whose finances supported and sustained the Bush/Cheney regime. There will be no respite.
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"These people are crazy"

When I first learned that yet another book about President John F. Kennedy's assassination was published, I thought, "So what else is new?" However, once learning of the book's theme, I began to tie in the recent years of unnecessary warfare, Kennedy's death, and that monstrosity of which Gen. Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation, the military-industrial complex.

The book is entitled JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. Following are excerpts from Edward Curtin's review:
• • •

It’s not often that the intersection of history and contemporary events pose such a startling and chilling lesson as does the contemplation of the murder of JFK on November 22, 1963 juxtaposed with the situations faced by President Obama today. So far, at least, Obama’s behavior has mirrored Johnson’s, not Kennedy’s, as he has escalated the war in Afghanistan by 34,000. One can’t but help think that the thought of JFK’s fate might not be far from his mind as he contemplates his next move in Afghanistan.

Douglass presents a very compelling argument that Kennedy was killed by “unspeakable” (the Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s term) forces within the U.S. national security state because of his conversion from a cold warrior into a man of peace. He argues, using a wealth of newly uncovered information, that JFK had become a major threat to the burgeoning military-industrial complex and had to be eliminated through a conspiracy planned by the CIA – “the CIA’s fingerprints are all over the crime and the events leading up to it” – not by a crazed individual, the Mafia, or disgruntled anti-Castro Cubans, though some of these may have been used in the execution of the plot. ...

First, Kennedy, who took office in January 1961 as somewhat of a Cold Warrior, was quickly set up by the CIA to take the blame for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The CIA and generals wanted to oust Castro, and in pursuit of that goal, trained a force of Cuban exiles to invade Cuba. Kennedy refused to go along and the invasion was roundly defeated. The CIA, military, and Cuban exiles bitterly blamed Kennedy. But it was all a sham.

Though Douglass doesn’t mention it, and few Americans know it, classified documents uncovered in 2000 revealed that the CIA had discovered that the Soviets had learned of the date of the invasion more than a week in advance, had informed Castro, but – and here is a startling fact that should make people’s hair stand on end – never told the President. The CIA knew the invasion was doomed before the fact but went ahead with it anyway. Why? So they could and did afterwards blame JFK for the failure. This treachery set the stage for events to come. ...

The stage was now set for events to follow as JFK, in opposition to nearly all his advisers, consistently opposed the use of force in U.S. foreign policy. In 1961, despite the Joint Chief’s demand to put troops into Laos, Kennedy bluntly insisted otherwise as he ordered Averell Harriman, his representative at the Geneva Conference, “Did you understand? I want a negotiated settlement in Laos. I don’t want to put troops in.”

Also in 1961, he refused to concede to the insistence of his top generals to give them permission to use nuclear weapons in Berlin and Southeast Asia. Walking out of a meeting with top military advisors, Kennedy threw his hands in the air and said, “These people are crazy.”

He refused to bomb and invade Cuba as the military wished during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Afterwards he told his friend John Kenneth Galbraith that “I never had the slightest intention of doing so.” Then in June 1963 he gave an incredible speech at American University in which he called for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons, the end of the Cold War and the “Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war,” and movement toward “general and complete disarmament.”

A few months later he signed a Limited Test Ban Treaty with Nikita Khrushchev. In October 1963 he signed National Security Action Memorandum 263 calling for the withdrawal of 1,000 U. S. military troops from Vietnam by the end of the year and a total withdrawal by the end of 1965. ...

These clear refusals to go to war and his decision to engage in private, back-channel communications with Cold War enemies marked Kennedy as an enemy of the national security state. They were on a collision course. As Douglass and others have pointed out, every move Kennedy made was anti-war. This, Douglass argues, was because JFK, a war hero, had been deeply affected by the horror of war and was severely shaken by how close the world had come to destruction during the Cuban missile crisis. Throughout his life he had been touched by death and had come to appreciate the fragility of life. Once in the Presidency, Kennedy underwent a deep metanoia, a spiritual transformation, from Cold Warrior to peace maker.

He came to see the generals who advised him as devoid of the tragic sense of life and as hell-bent on war. And he was well aware that his growing resistance to war had put him on a dangerous collision course with those generals and the CIA.

Read complete review here.


Here is another excellent review, by James DiEugenio, of the Douglass book on JFK.
JFK and the Unspeakable

I should inform the reader at the outset: this is not just a book about JFK's assassination. I would estimate that the book is 2/3 about Kennedy's presidency and 1/3 about his assassination. And I didn't mind that at all, because Douglass almost seamlessly knits together descriptions of several of Kennedy's policies with an analysis of how those policies were both monitored and resisted, most significantly in Cuba and Vietnam. This is one of the things that makes the book enlightening and worthy of understanding.

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Litmus test for Americans

What would the Founders of the nation make of this story below, in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz? When you have the power to demand that citizens take a litmus loyalty test, not to their own country, but to a foreign country, might this be the very essence of the meaning of "chutzpah?" That is, the brazen, open exercise of your will over others, whereby you coerce them to operate in accord with your preferences, even against their own interests – without fear of reprisal. (Isn't this a more on-the-point definition of the term than "unmitigated effrontery?")

• • •

Ha'aretz - December 4, 2009

American Jews eye Obama's 'anti-Israel' appointees

By Natasha Mozgovaya

Every appointee to the American government must endure a thorough background check by the American Jewish community. In the case of Obama's government in particular, every criticism against Israel made by a potential government appointee has become a catalyst for debate about whether appointing "another leftist" offers proof that Obama does not truly support Israel.

A few months ago, boisterous protests by the American Jewish community helped foil the appointment of Chaz Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, citing his "anti-Israel leaning." The next attempt to appoint an intelligence aide, in this case, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, also resulted in vast criticism over his not having a pro-Israel record. American Zionists are urging Obama to cancel Hagel's appointment because of what they call a long and problematic record of hostility toward Israel.

The president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton A. Klein, described Hagel's nomination as such: "Any American who is concerned about Iran's drive to obtain nuclear weapons, maintaining the Israeli-U.S. relationship and supporting Israel in its legitimate fight to protect her citizens from terrorism should oppose this appointment."

Republican Jews have also protested Hagel's appointment, citing an incident in 2004 when Hagel refused to sign a letter calling on then-president George Bush to speak about Iran's nuclear program at the G8 summit that year. In August of 2006, Hagel refused to sign a letter requesting the UN declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

In a speech at the conference of self-declared "pro-peace, pro-Israel" lobby J Street, Hagel spoke about his views on the issue of Israel and the Middle East. "The United States' support for Israel need not be – nor should it be – an either-or proposition that dictates our relationships with our Arab allies and friends. The U.S. has a long and special relationship with Israel, but it must not come at the expense of our Arab relationships," Hagel said.

The latest round of heated debate has been over the nomination of Hannah Rosenthal to head the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in the Obama administration. Rosenthal, who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, served as a Health Department regional director under the Clinton administration, and held positions in different left-leaning Jewish organizations. Between 2000 and 2005, Rosenthal was the head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs; she was also the executive director of the Chicago Foundation for Women. In recent years, she has served on the advisory board of the J Street lobby.

The president of Americans for Peace Now lauded Obama's appointment of Rosenthal. Even Anti-Defamation League chairman Abraham Foxman came out in support of Rosenthal's appointment. "This appointment signals the continued seriousness of America's resolve to fight anti-Semitism," Foxman said in a statement.

Shortly after the announcement of Rosenthal's nomination, conservative Jewish web sites began to attack her, some of them declaring that Obama appointed an anti-Israeli to fight anti-Semitism. Rumors brewed that she had accused Israel of systemically strengthening anti-Semitism. Bloggers argued that her appointment would cause Jews and Israelis to cast doubt on Obama and his relationship with Israel.

In one of her articles, Rosenthal criticized conservative voices in the Jewish community who she accused of taking over the discourse regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It's a scary time, with people losing the ability to differentiate between a Jew, any Jew, and what's going on in Israel," Rosenthal said.

In an interview with the new online Jewish magazine, Tablet, Rosenthal said that she loves Israel. "I have lived in Israel. I go back and visit every chance I can. I consider it part of my heart. And because I love it so much, I want to see it safe and secure and free and democratic and living safely," Rosenthal said.
• • •


Earlier this year, in reflecting on President Obama's Inauguration speech, the Israeli writer Gideon Levy wrote:

When we say that someone is a "friend of Israel" we mean a friend of the occupation, a believer in Israel's self-armament, a fan of its language of strength and a supporter of all its regional delusions. When we say someone is a "friend of Israel" we mean someone who will give Israel a carte blanche for any violent adventure it desires, for rejecting peace and for building in the territories.

Israel's greatest friend in the White House, outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, was someone like that. There is no other country where this man, who brought a string of disasters down upon his own nation and the world, would receive any degree of prestige and respect. Only in Israel. ...

That's because Bush was a friend of Israel. Israel's greatest friend. Bush let it embark on an unnecessary war in Lebanon. He did not prevent the construction of a single outpost. He may have encouraged Israel, in secret, to bomb Iran. He did not pressure Israel to move ahead with peace talks, he even held up negotiations with Syria, and he did not reproach Israel for its policy of targeted killings. ...

That's just how we like U.S. presidents. They give us a green light to do as we please. They fund, equip and arm us, and sit tight. Such is the classic friend of Israel, a friend who is an enemy, an enemy of peace and an enemy to Israel.

Read complete article here.
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It's time for a moratorium

In The Unemployment Solution, former Congressman Virgil Goode makes all the sense in the world. And that's why his common sense will not prevail. Here are excerpts from his wise insights:

• • •

I applaud Rep. Smith for standing up against illegal immigration, but we need to go a step further to protect displaced American workers. The first priority of our government needs to be the interests of American citizens—both native born and naturalized—not “legal immigrant workers.” And the 25 million American citizens out of work are not only pushed out by illegal aliens, but also by certain legal immigrants.

Even if we completely stopped illegal immigration tomorrow, the government still issues 75,000 permanent work visas and approximately 50,000 temporary work visas. These 125,000 jobs should go to Americans first. ...

Since the economic crisis began over a year ago, there’s been no discussion about reducing total immigration levels and we’ve allowed over 1.5 million new legal foreign workers in the country. As Pat Buchanan recently wrote, “probably twice as many jobs have been taken by these folks as the 650,000 the Obamaites claim were saved or created by their $787 billion stimulus package.”

What should we do? Roy Beck of the non-partisan Numbers USA testified at a Congressional Forum where he recommended we cut the 75,000 each month as close to zero as possible as long as the overall U-3 unemployment rate remains above, say, 5%?...The numbers demand the introduction of legislation to suspend the issuance of as many permanent work visas as possible during this Jobs Depression.

This policy is a no-brainer. It is pure madness to continue to keep flooding our country with millions of foreign workers when our own citizens cannot find jobs. It is time for a moratorium.

Read complete article here.


Immigration and the SPLC: How the Southern Poverty Law Center Invented a Smear, Served La Raza, Manipulated the Press, and Duped its Donors, published by CIS

Immigration apparently not high on Obama's priority list

Opening up jobs for Americans

The New York Times, the Watchdogs, and the crusade to destroy the immigration reform movement

Immigration: Betrayal By Black Elites

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Peace Prize President sends a Christmas gift

And so, more 21-year-old Americans will not get to live out their 20's. Not because they're defending a homeland under siege or even in threat of danger, but due only to deceiving politicians, who are egged on by zealots whose warped sense of patriotism is tied to their love of war.

Here are some trenchant insights from David Lindorff in Holiday Greetings: President and Man-of-Peace Obama Has a Xmas Present for Afghanistan.
• • •


Merry Xmas Jarheads!! The Man of Peace, Nobel Laureate-to-be, President Barack Obama, your chickenhawk commander-in-chief, is shipping you out as a holiday gift to the people of Afghanistan.

You will be delivering bullets and bombs, with my name and the name of other American taxpayers on them, to the long-suffering people of Afghanistan by December 25, according to what Mr. Hope and Change’s told the nation in a speech delivered at West Point last night.

Back here in America, the land of the free and brave, come the holidays, we will be scraping together the cash to buy small gifts for our kids, hopefully without having to miss a rent payment or a mortgage payment. Fortunately, we’ve got Food Stamps, which are now, we are told, flooding the suburbs, and are “no longer a stigma,” so we won’t be hurting too much for Christmas dinner—though you still can’t use the stamps to buy eggnog.

It will be interesting to hear what your commanders tell you your mission is. The president is saying we need to keep Al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, which he dishonestly called the "epicenter" of global terrorism, but from what I hear, there are no Al Qaeda operatives in the country. They all upped and left for greener pastures a long time ago—to places like Pakistan, Somalia, and maybe Europe and the USA. Hell, they can go anywhere. How do you spot an Al Qaeda guy anyhow? The fellows getting on the plane in Boston on 9-11 were clean-shaven and wore Brooks Brothers shirts, looking more like bond traders than bombers.

No, you will be targeting the Taliban. But the Taliban are Afghans, and look just like the people who are not Taliban, so what you’ll most likely be doing half the time or more is shooting up ordinary struggling Afghani peasants and shopkeepers, or members of weddings or funerals, whose angry relatives will then seek revenge by setting traps or ambushes for you. ...

You’ll be called “our heroes,” too. I’m not sure why. I mean, it takes a certain amount of guts just to sign up for an outfit like the Marines, I know (my dad volunteered to be a Marine in WWII). But I just find it hard to see what’s so heroic about being part of the best-armed, best-trained fighting force in the history of mankind and fighting a group of poor, uneducated peasants armed at best with AK rifles and home-made bombs—especially when you guys reportedly outnumber your enemy by better than 10:1, and have the backing of completely unchallenged air support—F-16s, helicopter gunships, fixed-wing gunships and B-1 bombers. That’s not a fight. It’s a slaughter. ...

So when you’re over there, try to kill as few of the poor Afghanis as you can. That would be a genuine act of heroism. Or just refuse to go. That would even be more heroic still.

Don’t believe your commander-in-chief when he says you are defending America over there. I’m confident that you’ll see pretty quickly once you get there that the notion that those poor people could be in any way a threat to this nation is beyond ludicrous.

No, what you’ll be defending is Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s scheme to look tough on defense, and to be able to kick the can of this ugly, pointless war down the road past the 2012 election without having to run as the "president who lost Afghanistan."
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Political reporters as spineless dweebs

Matt Taibbi's observations on how the media works are well worth a trip to his blog. Tough and gritty, he pulls no punches in describing what he believes about the field in which he works, and how the media drives politics in this country. Here are some excerpts from Yes, Sarah, There is a Media Conspiracy.

• • •


The political media has always taken it upon itself to make decisions about who is and who is not qualified to be taken seriously as candidates for higher office. Without even talking about whether they do this more or less to Republicans or Democrats, I can testify that I witnessed this phenomenon over and over again in the primary battles within the Democratic Party. It has always been true that the press corps has drawn upon internalized professional biases, high-school-style groupthink and the urging of insider wonks to separate candidates into “serious” and “unserious” groups before the shots even start to be fired.

At the outset of the 2004 campaign, for instance, the herd knew without being told that Kerry and Lieberman got the first paragraphs in the debate wrap-ups and Howard Dean, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich got the last paragraphs. The corps fought against Dean’s unexpectedly strong showing all the way through the early primaries and it was no surprise to anyone when they pile-drove him into total insanity before Iowa.

The point I’m trying to make is that the media has a long and storied history of just taking the gloves off and whaling on a dude until he screams uncle (in Dean’s case, almost literally) when they make up their mind about someone, and this phenomenon is not restricted to fights between Democrats and Republicans.

When that does happen, when the press corps decides to abandon all restraint and go for the head shot, it usually tells us a lot more about the reporters’ bosses and what they’re thinking than it does about the reporters themselves. Your average political reporter is a spineless dweeb who went to all the best schools and made it to that privileged seat inside the campaign-trail ropeline by being keenly sensitive to the editorial wishes of his social and professional superiors.

When their bosses were for the war, they were for the war, and they battered any candidate who was “weak on foreign policy.” When the political winds shifted four years later and the consensus inside the Beltway suddenly was that Iraq had been a hideous mistake, the campaign-trail reporters mysteriously started sounding like Sixties peaceniks on the plane and they hammered Hillary for refusing to admit her error on the Iraq vote clearing the way for Obama.

The tone for all this behavior is always set somewhere way up the corporate totem pole, and it always reflects some dreary combination of simple business considerations (i.e. what’s the best story and sells the most ads) and internalized political calculus (i.e. who is a “legitimate” candidate and who is an “insurgent” or a “second-tier” hopeful). It’s not that the reporters are making this judgment themselves, it’s that they have to listen to what the apparatus Up There is saying all day long — not just their bosses but the think-tank talking heads they interview for comments, the party insiders who buy them beers at night, the pollsters, and so on.

And when all these people start getting in their ears about this or that guy doesn’t have “winnability,” or doesn’t have enough money to run, or has negatives that are insurmountable, all that thinking inevitably bleeds into the coverage. It’s not that the reporters are “biased.” They just don’t have the stones, for the most part, to ignore all the verbal and non-verbal cues they get from authority figures about who is “legitimate” and who isn’t.

Once the signal comes down that this or that politician doesn’t have the backing of anyone who matters, that’s when the knives really come out. When a politician has powerful allies and powerful friends, you won’t see reporters brazenly kicking him in the crotch the way they did to Dean and they’re doing now to Sarah Palin. The only time they do this is when they know there won’t be consequences, meaning when the politician’s only supporters are non-entities (read: voters), as in the case of Ron Paul or Kucinich. Like America in general, the press corps never attacks any enemy that can fight back. ...

[Palin's] getting it from all angles now and that wouldn’t be happening if she still had any friends in high places. The press corps that is bashing her skull in right now is the same one that hyped that WMD horseshit for like four solid years and pom-pommed America to war with Iraq over the screeching objections of the entire planet.

It’s the same press corps that rolled out the red carpet for someone very nearly as abjectly stupid as Sarah Palin to win not one but two terms in the White House. If there was any kind of consensus support for Palin inside the beltway, the criticism of her, bet on it, would be almost totally confined to chortling east coast smartasses like me and Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan. ...

You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.” ...

You had these people eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue.
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