Saturday, May 26, 2007

Democratic Spin Won't End the War

(MG) Writing at the Counterpunch web site, John Stauber points out the obvious. The leading Democratic Presidential candidates have NO interest in ending the invasions and occupations of Iraq (and Afghanistan). They are playing politics, falling back on an all too familiar pattern exhibited by US political leaders vis-a-vis failed "wars". (MG) Immanuel Wallerstein made the same point back in early April at the start of his analysis of the situation in Afghanistan:

Everyone knows that the United States has lost the war in Iraq. The politics of Washington, DC today is simply a series of maneuvers between Republicans and Democrats to position themselves so that the other party pays the electoral price for the fiasco.

Stauber delves more deeply into the matter:

After several months of empty posturing against the war in Iraq, politicians in Washington have made what Democratic congressman James P. Moran called a "concession to reality" by agreeing to give President Bush virtually everything he wanted in funding and unrestricted license to continue waging the increasingly detested war that has made Bush the most unpopular president since Richard Nixon.

This is the outcome that we warned against two months ago when we wrote "Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?" In it, we criticized MoveOn for backpedaling on its previously claimed objective of ending the war in Iraq immediately. Anti-war sentiment was the main factor behind last year's elections that brought Democrats to power in both houses of Congress. Once in power, however, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through a "compromise" bill, supported by MoveOn, that offered $124 billion in supplemental funding for the war. To make it sound like they were voting for peace, the Democrats threw in a few non-binding benchmarks asking Bush to certify progress in Iraq, coupled with language that talked about withdrawing troops next year.

Understanding how legislative processes work, we expected then that even those few nods to anti-war sentiment would be eliminated in due course. Bush had already said he would veto the Pelosi bill and pledged to hold out for funding without restrictions of any kind. Moreover, there was little doubt that the Democratic leadership would eventually cave to his demands. Notwithstanding their stage-managed photo ops and rhetorical flourishes for peace, prominent Democrats signaled early that they would give Bush the funding he wanted. Barack Obama even went so far as to state publicly that once Bush vetoed the original bill, Congress would approve the money because "nobody wants to play chicken with our troops on the ground." (MG) what Obama means is that nobody wants to be ACCUSED of "playing chicken" with the troops, of "not supporting the troops" -- we all remember how any initial criticism of the invasion was cast as virtual treason -- and all the old lies about how badly returning Viet Nam vets were treated by "the hippies" resurfaced ... it's all about politics, and this is much worse than a shame -- this is a crime against humanity ... (Two weeks later, MoveOn announced that it had polled its members, and Obama was their "top choice to lead the country out of Iraq.") In effect, the confrontation between Bush and the Democrats was a high-stakes game of poker in which the Democrats went out of their way to make it clear that they would fold once Bush called their bluff.


A "tactic," as the dictionary explains, is "an expedient for achieving a goal." If the goal is to end the war in Iraq, the Pelosi bill was never a tactic that had any chance of succeeding. Its provisions had no teeth and it was clear that too many Democrats never intended to see the fight through. As this week's betrayal by the Democratic leadership demonstrates, ending the war is simply not their goal. (MG) John Kerry told the U.S. Senate in 1971 how to end the war ... just stop funding it ... tres simple Their goal is to continue the war for the time being, while giving themselves just enough distance from it that they can run as the anti-war party in next year's presidential and congressional elections. (MG) and after that? after the dems sweep the senate, take over an even bigger chunk of the house, win the presidency? THEN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Will they call the whole thing off? NO WAY in hell is my estimate ... because to do so would subject them (later on down the line) to the criticism that they didn't give the troops a chance to win the invasion / occupation .. and given the short term memory limitations of the U.S. public ... perhaps people will forget that this was ALWAYS dubya's war ... even after all the upcoming Democratic victories (yes, I'm a believer) ... the most likely scenario is MORE OF THE SAME BULL SHIT WAR ... and an increasingly negative perception and ever stronger distrust of politicians and the political process ... setting up conditions for another republican takeover much sooner down the road than many people can imagine ... Stoller seems to have belatedly arrived at this realization himself. Responding to this week's news, he writes:

We're in Iraq because the political system, the public, and all of us became unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood. We're still in Iraq, and will be there until the public is genuinely convinced to leave. Right now, we're not there. I know what the polls say, but I also am watching Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Giuliani, Romney, etc running for President, and not one of them is calling for a full withdrawal. Not one. Clinton, the leading nominee in a supposedly antiwar party, is a hawk and doesn't even think that voting to authorize the war was a mistake.

Amazingly, the conclusion that Stoller draws from these facts is the following non sequitur:

So do not tell me that Pelosi, Reid, and Moveon are doing a bad job. They are not. They are persuading a country and a politics that is used to lazy bullshit that kills a lot of people to think twice about it, and resist.

Here's the point that Stoller seems to have missed: There is a difference between what the public wants and what politicians do. Just because the high and mighty politicians don't get it yet, don't assume that the average American doesn't. It is not "the public" that needs to be persuaded. The politicians, their marketing campaigns, and the bloggers who join them may be "unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood," but the public at large fully understands that we need to get out of Iraq. The question is simply how to translate that public awareness into effective pressure that will force the politicians to change course. As we wrote in March, "When politicians and advocacy groups like MoveOn play anti-war games of political theater while effectively collaborating with the war's continuation, they merely add one more deception to the layers of lies in which this war has been wrapped."

Since 2003 we've co-authored two books on Iraq, and we have been reporting on the war for over five years now, since we began to dissect the Bush administration's propaganda push almost immediately after 9/11. We've been reporting on MoveOn for almost as long. And by the way, we are not "ardent critics" of MoveOn, as Stoller claimed. We are trying to constructively criticize an organization whose leaders mean well, even though they have been selling a flawed strategy. ...

The bottom line, however, is that MoveOn until now has always been a big "D" Democratic Party organization. It began as an online campaign to oppose the impeachment of President Clinton, and its tactical alliances with Democratic politicians have made it part of the party's current power base, which melds together millionaire funders such as George Soros and the Democracy Alliance, liberal unions like SEIU, and the ballyhooed Netroots bloggers like Matt Stoller, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos. At a personal level, we presume the members of this coalition genuinely want the war to end, but their true and primary priority is winning Democratic Party control of both houses of Congress and the White House. Now that the war in Iraq hangs like a rotting albatross around the neck of the Bush administration, it has become the Democrats' best weapon to successfully campaign against Republicans. From a "shrewdly pragmatic" point of view, therefore, they have no reason to want the war to end soon.

Some Democrats (not the top politicians, of course) are saying this openly. Here, for example, is how one blogger at the Daily Kos sees things:

I know, that means more American casualties, more Iraqi casualties, more treasure and lives wasted.

But I think you've got to keep in mind the big picture here. ... [B]y the end of September, people will be beginning to pay real attention to the next election...

I think this does give the Democratic party a tremendous opportunity to crush the Republicans for perhaps a couple of decades to come. Iraq, and the Republican support of it, may well do for the Republicans what Vietnam did for Democrats - make the public suspicious for decades about the party's bona fides on foreign policy.

In this analysis, "more treasure and lives wasted" are the "little picture," while winning elections is "the big picture." Democrats like Russ Feingold who oppose the Iraq supplemental do not share this strategy, and it is never explicitly stated even by the Democratic politicians who are signing on this week to fund the war, but it is implicit in their actions.


MoveOn is expert at marketing, PR and advertising. Their emails to members convey a friendly, informal style and a sense that "they" are just like "us." But there are important differences between the organization and many of the people who sign their petitions and give them money. MoveOn has not been primarily a movement against the war. It has been a movement of Democrats to get the party back into power.

We do not doubt that MoveOn's leadership sincerely believes they are pursuing the most practical and effective course to improve America's political problems by vanquishing the Republicans and getting Democrats elected. However, when given a choice between building a powerful grassroots movement to end the war, versus exploiting the war for the benefit of getting Democrats elected, MoveOn has repeatedly chosen the latter while probably believing there is no difference.

There is an organized anti-war movement in America that is not an adjunct of the Democratic Party. Up until now, it has been weak and divided and unable to organize itself into an effective national movement in its own right. In its place, therefore, MoveOn and its Netroots allies have become identified as the leadership of the anti-war movement. It is vitally important, however, that a genuinely independent anti-war movement organize itself with the ability to speak on its own behalf.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, the civil rights movement was most definitely not an adjunct of the Democratic or Republican Parties. Far from it, it was a grassroots movement that eventually forced both parties to respond to its agenda. (MG) this may not be the greatest example in the world ... actually, it is a MOST informative example ... many of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement have been turned back, because there will always be a virulent strain of white-supremacist racism that abhors the idea of doing anything even remotely fair for black Likewise, the movement against the Vietnam War was not aligned with either the Democratic or Republican parties, both of which claimed to have plans for peace while actually pursuing policies that expanded the war. (MG) and the anti-war movement really accomplished very little .. until the soldiers / sailors themselves turned against the war, and stopped fighting, and mutinied

That's the sort of movement we need again, if we wish to see peace in our lifetime.

John Stauber is Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin and co-author of Weapons of Mass Deception and The Best War Ever. He can be reached at:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bush's Dumbest Utterance

(MG) Posting at Steve Gilliard’s News Blog, uncommon sense poses a great question and arrives at the best answer.

Uncommon Sense: "What Is Bush's Dumbest Utterance?"

The Nation asks (with poll):

What Is Bush's Dumbest Utterance?
A) "You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror."
B) "If the Iranians were to have a nuclear weapon, they could proliferate."
C) "Those who enter the country illegally violate the law."
D) "It is a time of sorrow and sadness when we lose a loss of life."
E) "I believe that....young cows ought to be allowed to go across our border."
F) "The illiteracy level of our children are appalling."

The answer is, "G) None of the Above."

Bush's dumbest utterance, ever, is: "We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here."

Not only is it the dumbest thing Bush has ever said about Iraq, it could be the dumbest thing that anybody has ever said about anything.

I have yet to hear anybody even ask Bush what it means. On its face, it means that as American troops depart from Iraq, The Terrorists will board airplanes they do not have and, literally, follow them back to the United States. Hopefully, you do not need for me to explain how absurd that is.

If Bush does not mean it literally, then he can only mean it metaphorically. Again, the absurdity of such a metaphor should be self-evident. The Terrorists found us just fine on their own on September 11, 2001. They didn't need to follow anybody here. And if The Terrorists decided to come here and attack us while our troops remain bogged down in Iraq, they will have no trouble finding us, and will not find themselves restrained by some magical, Neocon "flypaper."

It is a sign of just how degraded our public discourse has become that Bush can make such a nakedly stupid statement and not be laughed off of the political stage.

Notes & Observations on the Post-Satirical Age

- posted by Uncommon Sense

Republicans in Self-Destruct Mode

May 23, 2007
Applauding Torture and Giuliani's Put Down of Ron Paul
Republicans in Self-Destruct Mode

As everyone except for a dwindling band of Bush supporters now knows, the US is in a terrible situation in Iraq from which it cannot extract itself. For Bush and Cheney, their own pride and delusion are more compelling than US casualties, the destruction of Iraq and its people, and the inflaming of sectarian strife and anti-American violence throughout the Middle East.

Congress is complicit in the great strategic blunder. Republican flag-wavers led Americans like lemmings into the abyss. The Democrats have already abandoned the electorate that gave them Control of Congress six months ago in the false hope that the Democrats would corral the White House Moron and lead America out of the abyss.

(MG) Do not forget this … the DEMOCRATS have abandoned the electorate that gave them Control of Congress

Like the Republicans, the Democrats serve the few special interest groups that benefit, or believe that they benefit, from the war. By now we all know who these groups are: the oil industry, the military-security complex, and the Israel Lobby, AIPAC. This contrived war, based on lies and deception, serves no other interest.

(MG) This is perhaps the single most important paragraph one needs to know in order to understand the present state of U.S. politics

There is no longer any question whatsoever, not a single sliver of doubt, that Americans were deceived into this disastrous war. The President of the United States lied to the American people, as did the Vice President, the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Undersecretary of Defense, as did every neoconservative in the Bush administration, think tanks, and media.

(MG) Especially the media … war mongering media, TV waiting with bated breath to show the video game war that led to the emergence of Ted Turner’s CNN news as a force to be reckoned with during the last BIG ONE that WE WON … Gulf War I

The fact that the American people were lied to and deceived does not absolve them from blame. The lie was transparent, the logic nonexistent, the true facts available and easy to discover.

(MG) Repeat after me … The lie was transparent
(MG) Repeat after me … the logic was nonexistent
(MG) Repeat after me … the true facts available and easy to discover
(MG) Yes, we the people get exactly what we deserve in the way of leadership

America failed, because the American people failed. The American people failed, because their self-righteousness and their hubris made them easy saps for deception.

(MG) Great smack down … perfect call, thank you so much Paul Craig Roberts

Even now after five years of a disastrous policy, Republicans cannot accept the facts about the US invasion and failed occupation of Iraq. At the recent "debate" between Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina, US Representative Ron Paul dared to tell the truth. Rep. Paul said that our difficulties in the Middle East are "blowback" from our government's determined attempts to exercise hegemony over the Middle East.

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani, a person who sunk so low as to frame innocents while serving as US Attorney in order to boost his name recognition, played the self-righteous card to extreme. How dare Ron Paul suggest that US policy toward Muslims has anything whatsoever to do with attacks on the US! With all the outrage he could muster, Guiliani asked Rep. Paul "to withdraw that comment and tell us that he didn't really mean that."

The thunderous applause from the Republican audience to Guiliani's put-down of the only honest person present underlines that the Republican Party is incapable of leadership to end a futile and lost war that under international standards is a war crime, an unprovoked naked aggression based entirely on lies, deception and a secret agenda.

(MG) well, uh, yes, the republican party is incapable of leadership to end a futile and lost war, etc, etc, etc … sadly, if history has anything to offer … the democratic party may very well prove to also be so incapable ….

At other times, the Republican audience applauded in support of torture and greeted John McCain's protest against the practice with cold silence.

(MG) we all know how popular the TV show 24 is … and that indeed shows torture as a necessity against theurgency of all the bombs, nukes, chemo, bio threats just waiting around every corner for joe and jane 6-pack … that would be a 6-pack of wine spritzers, btw … beer drinkers I assure you are opposed to this invasion and occupation, still being spun as a “war”

In the opening years of the 21st century the Republicans have made it clear that they are willing to sacrifice the US Constitution and Bill of Rights in order to wage "war against terrorism." This willingness makes the Republican Party a more dangerous threat to Americans than Muslim terrorists. Muslim terrorists cannot destroy our country's reputation, trash our civil liberties and wreck our system of accountable government, but the Republican Party has done a thorough job of it.

(MG) Oh .. the almighty threat of Muslim terrorists … and, just how many of these are there? How many Muslim terrorists waiting to drop nuclear bombs on the US? How many Muslim terrorists waiting to drop lethal bio-chemical weapons in the US? How many Muslim terrorists waiting to fly their vast air force bomber fleet into US air space and punk the Midwest, the west, the east coast, the south, and Texas too? Just what exactly is the order of battle for these Muslim terrorists that are up against us? I REALLY want to know.

The Democratic Party is complicit in the Republican Party's crimes, but unlike the Republican electorate, the Democratic electorate does not support the occupation, the domestic police state measures, and the Bush administration's decision to send more combat troops to Iraq. Although none of the current frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination are independent of the special interests that benefit from the war, it might still be possible for a Democrat to emerge who will represent the Democratic electorate instead of the special interests.

(MG) This is my prayer … of the possible emergants, Kucinich is still my favored guy, but Mike Gavel and Bill Richardson offer hope … but Roberts is exactly spot on about the rest of the Dem’s .. the front runners … it’ll just be meet the new boss, same as the old boss ….

Republican support for Bush's contrived war against Iraq has diminished the Republican party. Intelligent and decent people have abandoned the party, which has morphed into a Brownshirt Party with which fewer people are willing to be associated. The diminished Republican ranks will make it difficult for the party to steal any more elections.

(MG) Why not a third political party? Why not indeed?

If we are fortunate, Republicans will complete their self-destruction before they extinguish the Constitution and destroy America.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:

Justice Served

Justice best served by dropping charges against Cary-Grove essay writer

By Charles Keeshanckeeshan@dailyherald.comPosted Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Saying justice is best served by no longer pursuing the case, McHenry County prosecutors dismissed charges this morning against a Cary-Grove High School senior arrested over a violent essay turned in for a creative writing class.

(MG) If justice is best served by no longer pursuing the case, how was justice ever served by pursuing the case in the first place? ….

The decision, made formal in a brief court hearing, allows Allen Lee to graduate alongside his classmates this weekend without criminal charges looming and to again seek entry to the U.S. Marines after his prior enlistment had been canceled because of his arrest.

(MG) Good. Now the McHenry County States Attorney’s office can no longer be accused of not supporting the troops. …

It also ends a case that drew international attention to the county and sparked debate over students’ free speech rights.

(MG) I don’t think this case should be over. The fact of the matter is, that attendance at CG high school and completion of in class assignments has been proven to be hazardous to the health of at least SOME CG high school students. … As for free speech? Allen Lee didn’t SAY anything. He wrote something. …

“We knew this conclusion would be reached, either by motion, by trial or by agreement,” Lee attorney Thomas Loizzo said. “Fortunately for Allen, it was by agreement.”

(MG) Attorney Loizzo is an optimist. This case could have ended up any number of ways, depending on the mood, disposition, attitudes, etc of the judge that drew the case ….

Lee, 18, of Cary, was not in court today when prosecutors dropped the case. His presence was waived, officials said, so he could take his final exams.

(MG) Nice of the to let Lee take his final exams … just in case …

Authorities arrested and charged Lee on two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct last month after he turned in an essay authorities say disturbed and alarmed his teacher, Nora Capron. The essay describes a shooting spree, drug use and stabbings. It ends with a comment that Capron could one day inspire a school shooting spree.

(MG) The essay also critiques the general attitudes of the American voting public … and FINALLY a newspaper gets it correct … it ends with a comment that CAPRON could one day inspire a school shooting spree. She has already inspired a lot of sound and fury … about nothing … sheesh .. .get that idiot OUT of the teaching of public schools … and look REAL closely at the university which granted her a teaching degree. An utter incompetent …

McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi today stood by the decision to charge the student, but said his office opted to drop the case after determining Lee was not a threat to his classmates or teachers.

(MG) Of course he is going to “stand by the decision to charge the student” otherwise, it would be an admission of an idiot decision (which it was in the first place) … a clear case of covering one's buttocks

“Most importantly, it is clear to us that Ms. Capron has no desire for this matter to continue any longer,” Bianchi said. “As prosecutors, we have to consider the wishes of the victim as well as the likely result of what can be gained if the case were to proceed.

(MG) BUT … you see, Ms Capron, whether or not she desires the matter to continue … is NOT the one ultimately responsible for pursuing the charges … she filed the charges, the state’s attorney’s office is the one which pursues the charges … Ms Capron is most assuredly guilty of at least BAD JUDGMENT … and, to reiterate … just bad teaching in general ….

“(Lee) did admit to police he intended to alarm and disturb her,” Bianchi added. “I think it’s a fair assessment that they didn’t get along.”

(MG) Lee DID admit this? Says who? This is the first reference to such an admission that I’ve seen. Furthermore, Ms Capron needs to take responsibility for her own alarmedness and disturbedness, and, having once cried WOLF, well .. just don’t let her get into a position of sufficient authority to do this type of mischief again. …

Lee’s defense today continued to lay blame for the furor on the assignment itself. The assignment instructed students to write anything that came to mind in a stream-of-consciousness style, and without any self-censoring.

(MG) No shit. Mr Lee performed the assignment to the letter of the assignment, and as a result was arrested, had his life placed on hold, was subject to superficially deep scrutiny, and yet, had enough friends and supporters to create an uproar over the injustice of this farcical travesty ….

“There must be some accountability on the part of the school district or curriculum committee,” Loizzo said. “Had this assignment not been given, we wouldn’t be here. Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.”

(MG) Thank you very much Mr Loizzo. Indeed, had this assignment not been given, we wouldn’t be here. But the assignment WAS given, and you ARE here … agency falls entirely on the dip stick shoulders of the teacher, her department head, the principal of the school, the police and the state’s attorney’s office. …

Defense lawyers also were critical of authorities’ decision to arrest and charge Lee before first speaking to the student and his family about the essay.

(MG) No shit. ….

Bianchi, however, said authorities acted quickly to ensure Lee had no weapons and could not act upon threats they believe the essay contained.

(MG) And just how certain were they that Lee had no weapons? How difficult is it to purchase weapons? At gun shows, for example. And hide them? And what kind of profiling had they done … again, the secret service did a profile of school shooters .. and quite frankly Mr Lee is highly unlikely to fall into that segment, that of so small splinter of society ….

As for the assignment, Bianchi said Capron frequently warned students that their writings must be “classroom appropriate.” Anything offensive, he said, would be reported to a guidance counselor or principal.

(MG) How would Bianchi know this? And just what the hell is offensive. There were previous reports of a student writing one of these and assuming the part of a mob hit man. Why wasn’t THAT considered to be offensive. And I’d REALLY like to see ALL of the other assignments .. offensive … just WTF is that all about? We’ve already gone down the censorship road … I find it offensive that CSI (among other TV programs) shows dead bodies in such off hand detail … I find it offensive that Rush Limbaugh preaches his racist eliminationist crap about liberals, feminists, etc, etc … I find Ann Coulter inordinately offensive … to any sense of journalistic integrity … check out the crap these kids play with on their video games, or watch on TV .. there is a WHOLE lot of offensive crap out there ….

“She responded appropriately to the situation, as did the principal, the school and the Cary police department,” he said. “The arrest and charges were clearly warranted.”

(MG) Bull fucking shit. If they were clearly warranted, then prosecution would have been clearly warranted, and prosecution was NOT forthcoming. …

Lee regrets the unwanted attention his essay brought to himself and his family, his lawyers said today, but does not believe he should apologize for following what he believes were his teacher’s instructions.

(MG) I side here with Lee.

“Allen wrote an essay that created an international disturbance,” Loizzo said. “That’s pretty creative. If I was the teacher, I would have given him an A-plus-plus on that assignment.”

(MG) No .. it was NOT the essay that created the disturbance. It was the reactions of … the manifestly incompetent teacher, and a series of ever higher-ranking authorities who were NOT willing to say .. .hey, this is an in-class writing assignment … not some manifesto … this is a popular, student-athlete, a patriot who would rather serve his country NOW than go to college … it’s NOT the essay, and it’s NOT the student who wrote it that are responsible for this mess …. It’s the people in charge who would not accept responsibility … and they should all suffer consequences … fire the teacher, demote the department head, suspend the principal without pay for a while … but, I won’t hold my breath waiting for any of those results to occur.