Saturday, August 02, 2008

He Doesn't Get It, Either

This space is home to much gleeful McCain bashing--well deserved, I believe but I do think it's unkind to call him "batshit insane" and will refrain from doing so in future posts--but I don't see much possibility for change when Obama says things like this:
"My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post. "If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well-thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage -- I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done." (emphasis added)

As a community organizer who no doubt has seen addition destroy individuals and families, I would expect Obama to be seeking ways to end this nation's petroleum addiction. Instead, he's looking for ways to lower the cost of the daily fix.

New boss. Meet old boss.


The Audacity of Ambition

Like every presidential election in America, 2008 will be a test of our national consciousness, our ability to discern reality from unreality. Our grades of late are not particularly good. Rethuglicans are already deploying their smokescreens and innuendoes this year, trying to re-create the alternate universe that somehow entices Americans into ignoring their own best interests in favor of concentrated wealth.
...there's nothing new about Republicans trying to paint the Democratic nominee as hopelessly out of touch with everyday Americans and to depict their own candidates as a regular, salt-of-the-earth guy. Indeed, they've done it well enough to make George Herbert Walker Bush more of an ordinary Joe than Michael Dukakis, the son of Greek immigrants—and to make Yale Skull and Bones member and Harvard MBA George W. Bush seem like more of a working-class hero than decorated Vietnam combat vet John Kerry.

Still, there is something remarkable about the idea that the first African-American nominee of a major political party, raised by a single mother, whose shaping political experience was as a community organizer on the mean streets of Chicago, is facing a campaign based in some measure on the idea that "he acts like he's too good for us."

If they get away with it this time, we are truly a nation of fools.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Fair and Balanced

Since my last post slammed John McCain for his plan for a multi-decade surge in Iraq, I should make it clear that Barack Obama is, at best, marginally better which means there is virtually no difference between them when it comes to foreign policy. They represent slightly different variations in the bipartisan consensus that that has dominated American foreign policy for the past half century.

Barack Obama certainly offers me no hope for change. Just more of the same, but not batshit crazy like John McCain.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Surge on into the Breach

John McCain is sounding more desperate as he insists that Barack Obama was so very wrong about “the Surge” and that he (McCain) was oh so very right and courageous to have supported a policy that saved our forces from “retreating under fire”.
Speaking to an association of Hispanic veterans, McCain renewed his criticism of Obama's opposition to an additional "surge" of troops into Iraq in 2007, which McCain said made the war winnable.

A decision not to deploy additional troops, McCain said, would have left "Iraq and our strategic position in the Middle East in ruins, risking a wider war in the near future."

The decision on whether to deploy additional troops "amounted to a real-time test for a future commander in chief," McCain said. "America passed that test. I believe my judgment passed that test. And I believe Senator Obama's failed."

Yes, Obama cravenly acknowledged the American people’s disgust and dissatisfaction with this war while John (“I know how to win wars”) McCain just did what had to be done to make the war “winnable. And he wraps it all around our strategic position in the Middle East, which would lie in “ruins” after the American “retreat”.

Strategic position? Hmmm. Sounds important, it? Something better left to the “experts” like John McCain, not mere mortals.

As a strong adherent of Expertology, I do not readily accept the idea that others should do my thinking so I reject this idea of strategic position in the Middle East and, therefore any claim John McCain has regarding his qualification to be president. To my way of thinking, the high costs in blood, treasure and American values can only be justified (if at all, remember, I am militantly near-pacifist) for the most critical reasons. John McCain believes that Iraq is critical to America’s strategic position in the Middle East. A strategic position is essentially a position of strength and influence in one’s own interest. That interest may be commingled with others’ interests but in the end, a strategic position is for one’s own advantage. All well and good, that’s pretty much standard in any competition. American policy since 2003 has been long-term, aka permanent, military presence in Iraq. That’s what winning means to John McCain, just like CheneyBush before him.

And why do we need this long term military presence? McCain will cite reasons such as fighting terrorism, protecting Israel, deterring Iran and securing access to the region’s energy resources. According to McCain anything short of a “win” in Iraq will jeopardize any and all of these important interests. That’s why he said didn’t mind if American forces stayed in Iraq 100 years; he believes that this nation will need to “project force” in this region for decades to come. He intimated that Americans would not be fighting, that their mere presence would deter any threats to various and sundry American interests in the region, but in the end the whole point is to bring lethal force to bear on a particular situation. That’s what all the explosives are about.

In effect, McCain is calling for a 100 year surge, which is why he must adamantly insist that CheneyBush’s mere 15 month surge has been so successful and that he is so very qualified to serve as commander-in-chief. Of course, you would have to agree the “the surge” was a success. I don’t agree. (For an excellent perspective on the surge’s “success” see Brian Downing’s article in Asia times Online. ()) At best, the extra 30,000 troops secured the areas where they were deployed. Combined with the Sunni Awakening and Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire, the extra troops put a cap on what had been an increasingly out of control, tit-for-tat violence. But their presence did nothing to address the underlying ethnic and sectarian divisions. Iraqi politicians and factions have so far been unable to use the past year to reconcile their differences. Whatever strategic position America seeks in Iraq is already at risk as America sends its sons and daughters to fight in Iraq so that the petroleum-based corporate dominated infrastructure and economy will not have to change.

Unlike John McCain, I believe America’s position in Iraq and the greater Middle East will be at risk in direct proportion to our presence in Iraq. Neither Iraqis nor most Americans want our forces to remain in that nation. Iraqis want to regain their own destinies, however, difficult and messy that may be. Whatever good will and hope American forces brought to Iraq in 2003 has long since been fully dissipated and, as America continues to pervade and direct that nation, Iraqis see their future as a “military asset” of the United States against their own neighbors and fellow Muslims. No Iraqi with any sense of their national heritage will ever accept that arrangement. Certainly no American would, if the circumstances were reversed..

I don’t doubt that America has interests in the Middle East. Nor do I doubt that other nations, including the locals, have interests in the region. What I do doubt is that extended and unwelcome foreign occupation is the best way will provide a strong, long term strategic position for the United States in the Middle East.

Now that I think about it, John McCain’s ability to “win wars” is irrelevant, if it exists at all. America is fighting a war because it occupies a foreign nation. Foreign occupiers never win. They bleed. John McCain does not understand that.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Off to Work (!)

Today is the first day of my new job. Things may be quiet here for a while as I adjust to this new turn of events. I signed off as co-host of About Face yesterday. Here's what I said.

Today’s broadcast is my last as a co-host of About Face. I am leaving to take a full time position as a public policy research analys, a position that requires independence, non-partisanship and objective judgment. Although I believe that I can meet the position’s requirements and continue to actively support non-violence, economic justice and peace, a public role as a radio host may create an appearance of bias that could limit the credibility of my work. Because my new position offers a unique personal and professional opportunity, I am willing to accommodate myself to its requirements.

I make the change willingly but I will surely miss this microphone and the wonderful people who made it possible:
• my co-hosts Dennis and John who started this whole enterprise with their own ideas, initiative and money,
• Sean, the incredible engineer who makes it all happen every week.
• VFP Chapter 75
• KPHX radio and its sponsors
• You, our, loyal listeners

About Face has been more than a wonderful experience for me; it’s been fun, challenging, illuminating and personally satisfying. During the past two years, this program has brought you interesting guests and important information to challenge the collective amnesia and ignorance so prevalent in mainstream media. Working on this program opened doors for me that will never close. Today’s broadcast will not be my last. Expect me back on the air, somewhere, in some form at some time. This is too good to give up.

Leaving About Face does not change my adamant opposition to war and violence as an instrument of national policy. I will continue to petition my government for redress of this most serious grievance, this egregious violation of our national trust. I will continue to remind my fellow Americans about the dangers created by a permanent and growing militarization of our national life that serves big profits to unaccountable corporations while impoverishing Americans and destroying other nations. You bet I will keep speaking out.

Forty years ago, many of us opposed the Vietnam War and thought we had succeeded when the war ended. But we were wrong. We only ended one adventure. We did not stop the Monster; we only changed its trajectory--to Central and South America, AfricaIraq, Afghanistan and now Iran. Maybe China and Russia in the future. I can assure you that the Monster is alive, well and still hungry.

This time we must stop the Monster once and for all. In that cause, I am with you to the end.

Thanks for listening.