Saturday, May 31, 2008

Myth of the Liberal Media

From Scott McClellan's book “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception” - Politico excerpts:

The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.

Ponder this. The 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation.

In a Manichean world (Bushworld / NeoChristoworld) a duality struggles - light versus darkness; good versus evil; you're either with us or against us.

If there is a liberal media, in a Manichean world, there must then be a 'conservative media.' We don't hear much about the 'conservative media" (it's known to liberals as the right-wing slime machine).

When the 'liberal media' doesn't live up to its reputation, then what in fact is the 'liberal media?' If it's not liberal, then it must be conservative.

The country would have been served (a word Scotty uses more than once) had the liberal media lived up to its reputation. What reputation? What was the SCLM expected to do?

"Liberal" is a weasel word Republicans use to frighten their children. Several years ago I volunteered to play bridge at the local duplicate club with some Junior High School Students. An unforgettable conversation ensued.

"Why are you playing bridge with us?" asked on of the two eighth graders.

"Because I think that children are God's great gift to human kind" (keeping the parts about devoted mongrels and tears to myself).

"Are you a liberal?" she continued, not pausing for air.

"Yes. Flaming," I replied.

I think the concern about liberal bias helps to explain the tendency of the Bush team to build walls against the media,” McClellan writes in a chapter in which he says he dealt “happily enough” with liberal reporters.

"Concern about liberal bias" helps to explain ... WHAT ... walls built against the media?

WHAT WALLS? Oh - the ones the Cheney Administration put up. Impenetrable from the outside, porous from within.

Because we KNOW Bush administration people LEAKED all kinds of propaganda to the press:

Mushroom clouds
Smoking guns
Weapons of mass destruction
Imminent threat
911 Saddam 911 Saddam 911 Saddam 911

Same bridge club, again, years ago. Betty, a regular player had clipped a WSJ editorial decrying to extreme bias of liberal professors at some large universities, focusing on English, Sociology, Philosophy, and History Departments, maybe Colleges of Journalism too. Not sure if these were public universities or private, or both.

How does WSJ get its data? The claim was that it checked the voter's registration records of the professors. I don't know. This information is available I suppose.

Betty let me keep the article, for study, to prove her point. She found the virtual non-representation of conservative professors at the university level disgraceful.

Okay. Got it now.


Long haired, unwashed, hedonistic, hippy. Streets of Chicago, 1968. Spitters upon returning Vietnam war veterans. Oh, let's not overlook people of color, and licentious libertines unwed mothers. And unwashed union shirkers. And liberation theologists.

LIBERAL = those who hounded Richard Nixon from office and who WRONGLY believe that the President can break the law (exception: Clinton).

LIBERAL = those traitors who bound the tied the hands of the military behind its back and forced them to retreat from Vietnam, when victory was just around the bend; snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Who wouldn't let the GI's finish the mission. Who tried everything to keep even RAMBO from winning in Vietnam, which we know, for a fact, since we saw it in the movies.

So what kind of 'liberal media' can't live up to its reputation?

One that isn't liberal. One in lock step with the administration and its will to war. Cheerleaders. Propagandists. Literary whores upon whose finger tips type lightly on keyboards stained by the blood of 4,100 U.S. military personnel who have died in Iraq.

They too have been complicit in the wounding, the killing, and the displacement of millions of Iraqi's and Afghani's.

Always been this way. Nothing new under the sun. John Pilger tells this story:

"During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said their spokesman, “that we were astonished to find, after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were, by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don't have that. What's the secret? How do you do it?”


My experience is that what the Russian journalists were referring to is censorship by omission, the product of a parallel world of unspoken truth and public myths and lies: in other words, censorship by journalism, which today has become war by journalism.

For me, this is the most virulent and powerful form of censorship, fuelling an indoctrination that runs deep in western societies, deeper than many journalists themselves understand or will admit to. Its power is such that it can mean the difference between life and death for untold numbers of people in faraway countries, like Iraq.

During the 1970s, I filmed secretly in Czechoslovakia, then a Stalinist dictatorship. I interviewed members of the dissident group, Charter 77. One of them, the novelist Zdener Urbanek, told me, “We are more fortunate than you in the West, in one respect. We believe nothing of what we read in the newspapers and watch on television, nothing of the official truth. unlike you, we have learned to read between the lines of the media. unlike you, we know that that real truth is always subversive.” By subversive, he meant that truth comes from the ground up, almost never from the top down.

Parsing Scotty Cashing In and Cashing Out

Politico, offers up this quote from Scott McClellan's book (re: Plame). A fine example of tortured syntax. A lot of torture going on in the WH.

“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” McClellan writes. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively. I didn’t learn that what I’d said was untrue until the media began to figure it out almost two years later.

Parse this I had allowed myself
to be deceived into
passing along a falsehood.

I let me lie, but because they lied to me, I didn't know, that I lied.

Does this then mean that otherwise

Parse that It
would ultimately prove fatal
to my ability to serve
the president effectively.

Not sure what "It" refers to here. Problems with indefinite pronouns:

Parse the other thing It (that he had allowed himself)
(that he had been deceived
(that he had unknowingly passed along
(a falsehood .... A falsehood ... not falsehoodS, but A falsehood
(or perhaps merely the self-knowledge

would ultimately prove fatal [fatalities occur when people die - Scotty's still living]

to my ability to serve [no longer in service]

the president effectively:

Semantically, I take the effective serving of the President to mean Scotty could have kept on keeping on IF ONLY there had been some way for him to:

allow myself to not be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood (not fatal)

allow myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood (fatal)

I'd learned not of my lie until (years later) those unto whom I had lied BEGAN to figure it out.

Once they figured it out, the jig was up! (p.s. They are SLOW learners.)

Shorter Scotty: I lied. Got caught. Then died.

However: As long as I knew I was lying, I was fine.

[I remember the obfuscations, and REFUSING to answer questions -- not the same as lying]

Flashback - Scotty & Me series published regularly in Common Dreams. Common Dreams published Russell Mokhiber's questions of McClellan at the White House briefings. This series of questions dates to 8 October, 2003.

Mokhiber: Why do you refuse to answer the question whether Karl Rove said that Joseph Wilson's wife was "fair game"?

Scott McClellan: I think we have been through this now -

Mokhiber: But you won't answer the question?

Scott McClellan: - for two days in a row -

Mokhiber: You have been dodging it. Did he say it?

Scott McClellan: I did answer the question.

Mokhiber: Did he say it?

Scott McClellan: Again, I answered that question --

Mokhiber: What was the answer?

Scott McClellan: -- it's been asked for two days now -

Mokhiber: What was the answer, though?

Scott McClellan: - it's been addressed -

Mokhiber: What was the answer?

Scott McClellan: I'm not going to go back through it today, because we have been through it the last couple of days. I've pointed out that there are some who are trying to politicize this investigation for partisan political gain. And that's unfortunate. There is an investigation going on. No one wants to get to the bottom of this more than this White House.

Mokhiber: Why don't you just say - I don't want to answer the question?

Scott McClellan: Anybody else?

Mokhiber: Why don't you say - I don't want to answer that question?

It's the Metrics

Nothing should really surprise us from that group that creates its own reality. From Media Matters Jamie Foser regarding the "success" of the surge being reported

The bottom line, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO): the goal of reducing "the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security" was "not met." And according to a Washington Post report, Bush administration claims of a reduction in sectarian violence rely on bizarre classifications of violence, under which someone shot in the back of the head is counted as a victim of sectarian violence, while someone shot in the front of the head is counted as a victim of criminal violence.

That's what war proponents have been reduced to: touting a reduction in the number of people shot in the back of the head -- and the media go along with it.

Lessons learned - how the press corp "owned up" to their mistakes, and that ought to be good enough - what's the point in looking back at how we got to here any way? That's old news.

Of the many ways in which the American media failed the nation during the months leading to the Iraq war, two stand out:

They were dismissive of anti-war voices and were insufficiently critical of the administration and its claims. There is no shortage of news organizations and journalists who have acknowledged those failings. It often seems as though journalists think that, since they have acknowledged those failings, critics should stop bringing them up. But there is a very simple reason why that doesn't happen: Those same failings continue to this day.

The media no longer have the (bad) excuse that public opinion lies with the administration, or the (bad) excuse that they don't realize how dishonest the administration is willing to be in order to advance its agenda. And yet those failings continue.

The obsequiousness many journalists displayed toward Petraeus tells us that while they may have acknowledged their pre-war failings, they haven't yet learned from them. Until that happens, they will continue to fail their readers, their viewers, and their nation.

12 Articles of Journalistic Faith

Dr. Anothony Asadullah Samad, a national columnist has written an inspiring article at The Black Commentator. For criticizing The Los Angeles Sentinel on its coverage of a local election, saying that ,

"the reporting “lacked integrity” and the paper was beginning to lack integrity"

he was advised the paper would no longer carry his syndicated column. A man of journalistic integrity, he has moved on, and now calls another paper "home."

Dr. Samad's article contains these profound truths, articles of journalistic faith.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are centered in the freedom to criticize government, criticize social practices, criticize those responsible to the people, and yes, criticize the press when the press doesn’t serve its constitutional purpose.

The press is a “social check” in a nation of “checks and balances.”

The most important page in any paper is the editorial page, as it is the opportunity to check all segments in society, including the press when the press is wrong.


Advocacy journalism attacks false history and covertness.

Journalistic integrity, no matter who lacks it, should be called out at all costs.

Black journalists and editorialists are constantly calling out media bias and misrepresenting of the mainstream media that we see, by any standard, as unfair ... Black press is fair game too.


If a publication has a bias or a leaning, it should be stated - not inferred - and there still should be balance to the story if it is a two-sided story.

If it is an editorial, opinion still has to be factual and the opportunity for rebuttal (the other side of the story) extended.

Don’t give the appearance of neutrality and then not offer the facts or distort the facts.

All press may be entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

Inaccuracy in the media is the greatest threat to the spirit of free thought, just as an attempt to manipulate the truth is an effort to manipulate the democracy.


I write for “the people,” not “a paper.”

Now, ask yourself these questions:

To what extent do I believe that my primary sources of printed news & opinion cleave unto these principals?

To what extent do I believe that my primary sources of television news & opinion cleave unto these principals?

To what extent do I believe that my primary sources of radio news & opinion cleave unto these principals?

To what extent might my beliefs and world views have been formed based on distorted facts, manipulations, or out right lies?

Those who fail to heed unto these articles of journalistic faith, are not journalists, not news people, not reporters, not editorialists, but literary whores who pervert, pollute and corrupt democracy.

An old man's questions

To discover the identity of the old man who asks these questions, link to The Black Commentator:

Should state terrorism be used by a country as powerful as the United States as an instrument to bring about peace on the planet?

Can the United States do without immigrants, who grow vegetables, fruits, almonds and other delicacies for U.S. citizens? Who would sweep their streets, work as servants in their homes or do the worst and lowest-paid jobs?

Are the brain-drain and the continuous theft of the best scientific and intellectual minds in poor countries moral and justifiable?

... [Y]our country had long ago warned European powers that it would not tolerate any intervention in the hemisphere, reiterating that this right be respected while demanding the right to intervene anywhere in the world with the aid of hundreds of military bases and naval, aerial and spatial forces distributed across the planet. I ask: is that the way in which the United States expresses its respect for freedom, democracy and human rights?

Is it fair to stage pre-emptive attacks on sixty or more dark corners of the world, as Bush calls them, whatever the pretext may be?

Is it honorable and sane to invest millions and millions of dollars in the military industrial complex, to produce weapons that can destroy life on earth several times over?

After posing these questions, the old man writes:

The only form of cooperation the United States can offer other nations consist in the sending of military professionals to those countries. It cannot offer anything else, for it lacks a sufficient number of people willing to sacrifice themselves for others and offer substantial aid to a country in need ... They are not to blame for this, for society does not inculcate such values in them on a massive scale.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gasbags strutting and fretting upon the stage

(Note: post slightly edited)

DDay has a passionate post up over at Digby's about the uproar from the press corps over Scotty McClellan's insider's "tell-tale account" of deceit within the Bush Administration and the willingness of the press corps to lap it up. Please, do remember, they liked Bush better because he had a better airplane, better snacks was more jovial, a much better guy "to have a beer with" and he also gave them nick-names and patted them on the head.

Think - this is how you house train a pet.

DDay's closing thoughts:

"They were puppets, enthusiastic puppets for an imperialist agenda. And they have to live with that forever."

Here's my comments (slightly edited):

But will they lose their careers? Will they lose their fortunes? Will they lose their access? Will they lose their homes? What price will they pay? What psychic price will they pay?

They hob nob with the political elites of the nation - the movers and shakers. They work for the financial elites - the powers behind the powers. They go to the same parties. They have a herd mentality - a herd of jackals.

Not long ago that major newspapers everywhere reported that the outgoing Clinton staffers had taken the "W" key off the computer keyboards. They were told this. They were lied to. But it was a pleasing lie. And they reported this. Did any of them ask to see the "S"-bereft keyboards? NO. They're stenographers.

Google "Clinton Kennedy Gaffe" - 864,000 hits. Watched the Clinton interview with the Argus Leader Editorial Board - twice and read the transcript. This pundit described "gaffe" will take on the legendary status of the Howard Dean "scream".

Within the context of the interview, the editorial board asked Senator Clinton six questions, in a row, paraphrased here:

Q: Your people and Obama's people gonna do deal so you can bow out now?
A: No.

Q: No discussions about a deal?
A: No.

Q: Why so many trying to push you out of the race?
A: Don't know.

Q: Won'cha just drop out for the sake of party unity?
A: Nope - primaries go through June.

Q: What's your speculation about the speculation why you don't drop out?
A: Don't know. Won't attribute motive.

Q: You speculate it's gender issues?
A: Don't know; Don't speculate.

Olbermmen went apoplectic on this -- the great denouement that sure looks like the press / media has been waiting for: "At long last, Senator Clinton, have you no shame." Olbermmen tracking Joseph Welch smacking down tail-gunner Joe McCarthy.

Cause this primary, it just goes on and on. We're tired of it. Maybe even getting a little conflicted -- what with having gone a little moist for Senator Obama (my guess, it's only puppy love) while hardly spending any time with Maverick St. McCain. Don't you get it Clintons - we, the kewl kidz are TIRED of you.

Further evidence of the Bushword world epidemic, where up is down, no is yes, and war is peace, and killing one million Iraqis is necessary to bring them freedom, I agree with David Brooks analysis. "And my own personal belief is she didn't mean it. She was talking about June. She stumbled into the assassination thing. She didn't mean anything by it. You know, she says 100,000 words a day like all the candidates."

David Brooks tracking the Reverend Jeremiah Wright: "It went down very simply. He's a politician, I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences. And he says what he has to say as a politician."

Mark Shield's point of view leaves me speechless: " ... this rises to a different level. The unspoken story of this campaign have been the assassination threats against Barack Obama. It's widely known. It's widely whispered. It's widely discussed, always in private." Well, now the whispered unspoken story has been spoken after all.

Reminds me of Lenny Bruce talking about this real hip couple at one of his shows, enjoying everything, laughing along with the musicians. Up until the point were Lenny starts to do a bit about cancer. Couple gets up, husband to wife - "I can't believe it, he said the 'C' word. We're outta here."

Words can be very powerful. The can grab us on some gut level and take us to places where we are willing to attribute the worst of motives or the best of humankind's higher impulses. Places where our reptilian brain takes over.

Whatever happened to the days when journalism was about: Who, What, Where, How, When? Adios those days. Now we get Psycho-drama queens and delusional babbling bobble heads telling us why; imputing motive.

How much better would we be served by the press / the media if they were to abide by this simple philosophy before waxing poetic about why:

Why? Give Senator Clinton the last words here: "I don't know. I find it curious, and I don't want to attribute motives or strategies to people because I don't really know"

As for the Kewl Kidz - mock them at every opportunity. Point up their hypocrisy. KIDZ, pulleeze, get over yourselves. You are tools and fools, albeit very well paid. You become ever more irrelevant ciphers.

Gasbags, strutting and fretting your hour upon the stage - telling idiots' tales full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Transcript - What Senator Clinton Said

To help better understand the controversy surrounding Senator Clinton's remarks about Democratic Presidential Candidates continuing to contest primaries into June, here's the newspaper's summary of the events following her interview with the Argus Leader:

On Friday, Clinton met with the Argus Leader Editorial Board for an interview covering her stance on the issues and the state of her campaign.

Clinton described strategies to encourage alternative energy production and to improve conditions on South Dakota's reservations.

She also flatly denied reports that her campaign had been discussing an end to her campaign with Obama's representatives.

Clinton also vowed to keep her campaign going through South Dakota's primary.

But what made headlines nationally was a reference to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June 1968. Clinton referred to RFK in explaining that other primary campaigns had stretched into June, as hers will. In fact, she used another in the same breath - her husband's late victory in 1992.

But taken out of context, the reference to assassination was enough to spark a firestorm.

What follows is an edited transcript of the interview with Clinton. Argus Leader Publisher Arnold Garson, Executive Editor Randell Beck, Director of Administration Greg Robinson, Assistant Controller Barb Facile and Voices Editor Nestor Ramos conducted the interview.

Here's the transcript from the point where the Editorial Board begins to "turn the corner" of the direction of their interview questions:

EB: We're going to begin to turn the corner here a little bit with some other areas. Some of the biggest names in Democratic politics in South Dakota are on the Obama side of the ledger - former Senators McGovern and Daschle, for example. Who are your key people in South Dakota?

CLINTON: I just have a lot of grass-roots support. I have a very vigorous volunteer effort that understands the odds that we face but are undeterred. And I am very grateful for that. I think that if you look at this campaign starting in late February moving forward, I've done much better. The longer this campaign has gone on, the better I've done. Which I think is an interesting observation. I lead in the popular vote. More people have now voted for me, not only more than my opponent, but more voted for me than anyone who has ever run for the nomination of a political party in our country. There are a lot of people who really believe in me and support me because they think I would be the best president. I think having the campaign go on until the people in South Dakota actually get to vote is a very important part of democracy. I readily accepted Senator McGovern's offer that Senator Obama and I appear side-by-side. I have accepted that; I have urged that. I think that the people in South Dakota deserve it.

He doesn't seem to want to debate me or even appear on the same stage with me, which I think is kind of strange since he's going to have to certainly do that in the fall, I would expect, if he is our nominee. So I feel very good about my campaign, I'm very grateful for the support that I've received against pretty daunting mountains to climb because people have been declaring it over for many months and voters seem to have a different idea and keep coming out and voting for me, and I hope to do well here in South Dakota.

The EB now asks six consecutive questions that dance around the possibility of Senator Clinton dropping out of the primaries before the Democratic convention.

EB: The reports this morning and overnight were that your campaign had made certain contacts or overtures to Mr. Obama's campaign just in the past 24 hours and were working on some sort of deal for your exit.

CLINTON: That's flatly untrue. Flatly, completely untrue.

EB: No discussions at all.

CLINTON: No discussions at all. At all. Now I can't speak for the 17 million people who voted for me, and I have a lot of supporters. But it is flatly untrue, and it is not anything that I am entertaining. It is nothing I have planned. It is nothing that I am prepared to engage in. I am still vigorously campaigning. I am happy to be here. Looking forward to campaigning here.

Honestly, I just believe that this is the most important job in the world, it's the toughest job in the world. You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere. I think it's an interesting juxtaposition where we find ourselves. I have been willing to do all of that during the entire process and people have been trying to push me out of this ever since Iowa.

EB: Why?

CLINTON: I don't know. I don't know. I find it curious because it is unprecedented in history. I don't understand it. Between my opponent and his camp and some in the media there has been this urgency to end this. Historically, that makes no sense, so I find it a bit of a mystery.

EB: You don't buy the party unity argument?

CLINTON: I don't because, again, I've been around long enough. You know my husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I just don't understand it and there's lot of speculation about why it is, but . . .

EB: What's your speculation?

CLINTON: You know, I don't know. I find it curious, and I don't want to attribute motives or strategies to people because I don't really know, but it's a historical curiosity to me.

EB: Does it have anything to do with gender?

CLINTON: I don't know that either. I don't know. I'm not one to speculate on that because I think I want to be judged on my own merits and I believe I am, but others have.

Here the EB has six questions about the same issue. Let me paraphrase this Q & A:

Q: Your people and Obama's people gonna do deal so you can bow out now?
A: No.

Q: No discussions about a deal?
A: No.

Q: Why so many trying to push you out of the race?
A: Don't know.

Q: Won'cha just drop out for the sake of party unity?
A: Nope - primaries go through June.

Q: What's your speculation about the speculation why you don't drop out?
A: Don't know.

Q: You speculate it's gender issues?
A: Don't speculate.

Here's how the EB paraphrases / parses these paraphrased answers

Reminder: No; No; Don't know; Nope; Don't know; Don't speculate.

EB: It sounds like what you're saying then is this: That South Dakotans who are certainly thinking ahead to voting on June 3 can be confident that there will be competitive race on the day they vote.

And having permitted her interviewers the prerogative of paraphrasing / parsing HER words, she takes the affirmative voice, and reparaphrases their paraphrasing / parsing:

CLINTON: That's right. That's right. Well, if I have anything to do with it. And the other thing that I want South Dakotans to really think hard about is winning in November. The electoral map is the target here and consistently over the last weeks, I have had a considerable lead in the electoral college calculation over my opponent. And a source that is, perhaps, suspect to all of us as Democrats but seems to have a pretty good track records, Karl Rove does a rolling assessment and ABC News got a hold of his maps and calculations last week. It coincides with everything that I've seen from every other source. If the election were held today, I would win. I would beat McCain, and McCain would defeat Senator Obama.

I respect Senator McCain. He's a friend of mine. But I do not believe that he has the right ideas for our country, and I do not believe he should be the president after George Bush. It would be like a continuation economically and in Iraq of Bush's policies. So I think Democrats need to think very carefully about this vote in South Dakota.

EB: If Obama were the nominee, would you campaign for him in those states?

CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely, I've said I will do anything and everything I'm asked to do. I am a Democrat, and I am an American, and I think the damage that George Bush has done to our country is considerable. Therefore, we must have a Democratic president. I think the odds are greater that I would be that president than my opponent. That doesn't mean he can't win.

EB: Fair enough. It sounds like your strategy to win essentially rests now on Michigan and Florida.

CLINTON: No. Neither of us has the delegates we need.

EB: But he's closer than you are.

CLINTON: He's slightly closer than I am, slightly. I mean less than 200 out of 4,400. One of us has to get to 2,210 and neither of us is near there yet. He keeps saying, 'Oh, but I've gotten to 2,025,' but that excludes Michigan and Florida. I don't think it's smart for us to have a nominee based on 48 instead of 50 states. Hopefully, Florida and Michigan will be resolved on May 31st when the DNC Rules Committee meets. But even then, we still have to convince superdelegates. Now, superdelegates are in the process for a purpose. Their task is to exercise independent judgment, and the independent judgment they should exercise is who is the stronger candidate to win in the fall. And, if they exercise that independent judgment, they should look at all the evidence, and they should make their conclusion. I'm waiting to see the electoral map that leads my opponent to the 270 electoral members. That's all I ask, and that's what a superdelegate should ask. Show me the map. It's not the math, it's the map. And I can show you the map about how I put together the 270 electoral votes.

EB: Senator, we really appreciate your time this afternoon.

CLINTON: Well, thank you.

EB: It was great to be able to pick your brain and thank you a lot, we appreciate it much.

CLINTON: My pleasure. Thank you all very much.

Real Threat Iran's Nuclear Program Poses

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy, retired, analyses inform in prose so accessible, so interesting, and frequently so damn funny, that they ought to be required weekly readings for U.S. junior high and high schools -- not to mention U.S. military academies and war colleges.

His recent smackdown to Thomas Friedman's theoretic "U.S. cold war with Iran"

We’re no more in a cold war with Iran than we were
in a cold war for 50 years with Belarus.

To prove his point, Commander Huber notes:

Iran’s ballistic missiles, if they work, can reach Israel, but ballistic missiles, as we saw in our first war with Hussein, are little more than incredibly expensive mortar rounds unless they have nuclear warheads, and the Iranians don’t have any nuclear warheads to put on theirs.

If Iran ever does possess nukes, it won’t dare use them; it would not survive the retaliation. If terrorists want someone to steal a nuclear warhead from, they don’t need to bother with Iran.

Pakistan has plenty of the little boogers, and its government is far less stable than Iran’s is ever likely to be.

Iran’s leaders have consistently said they have no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons.

Some people say they’re lying, but the people saying that are the likes of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, whose relationship with the truth has been on the rocks for many years.

The REAL threat Iran's Nuclear Program Poses

The real threat Iran’s nuclear program poses is the very good possibility that it will grow into a viable, self-sustaining nuclear energy industry. If that happens, the big losers will be Dick and Dubya’s buddies with Exxon/Mobil and in the Sunni oil producing nations who will have lost control of the evolution of the global energy market.

The big winners will be Iran’s sponsor nations, Russia and China.

(Whom many of you will recall, from the LAST cold war)

Those who comment on his posts also analyze insightfully:

There are two other good reasons why Iran wouldn't use nuclear weapons on Israel.

1) Israel is so small the fallout would spread into the neighboring countries (or worse if the missile veers off course).

2) Jerusalem is the third holiest city to Muslims. Well, ok, might be 4th to Shiites but the point still stands, they ain't gonna nuke one of the holiest of holies. That would be like Greece nuking Istanbul (Constantinople).

Another reader notes:

"If Iran ever does possess nukes, it won’t dare use them; it would not survive the retaliation."

Spot on Jeff, there isn't a government on what's left of this planet with a suicide wish. The perks of being in power, even if you are a small nation (better to be a big fish in a little pond), are too great.

And finally, The Reality Kid said...

I do believe that you are the most well-rounded, informed and informative analyst on the "Iran situation" writing anywhere. As much as I can about this particular issue/situation, I am thankful for your insights.

What is perhaps most impressive is your refusal to view the Bush administration's middle eastern policy as comprising an incoherent series of crazy acts, but instead, as potentially a deliberate (if wanton) strategy based on military- and energy-driven objectives.

While there are a few others who accept that this administration isn't so crazy as to be pig-headedly maintaining an obviously-failing policy in the M.E., and who recognize that maybe the policy is achieving, more or less, what's intended (i.e., objectives that have little to do with liberation and freedom), your accomplishment, in part at least, lies in how broadly-framed and well-grounded your analysis is.

In sum, it makes sense. Which is what I come here for.

Self Inflicted Economic Misery

At Asia Times Online Julian Delasantellis waxes nostalgically about olden days when Congressional budgetary actions signed into law by the President were thought to be at least as effective as the Federal Reserve Board's actions to keep movements of the economy under control.

As examples, Delasantellis notes LBJ's 1967 push for a 10% income tax surtax "to deal with the inflationary effects of Vietnam War deficit spending" and Ronald Reagan's "
budget-busting tax cuts and defense buildup" to deal with the stagflation of 1981.

Although there were consequences - the Vietnam War and the income tax surtax drove LBJ from office, while Reagan and Congress enjoyed the pursuits of their fiscal policies which permitted them to "
ladle tax cuts and government spending over their constituents like thick country gravy. "

Excellent stuff here. Please note:

(1) Deficit war spending is inflationary.

(2) President and Congress like to give TAX CUTS and GOVERNMENT SPENDING to
their constituents.

Delasantellis points out that Congress and the Fed are working at cross purposes, with Congress giving a $307 bn farm bill over five years along with a $160 bn "fiscal stimulus / rebate" initiative to spur the economy, while the Fed continues to rapidly lower interest rates to keep inflation at bay.

In a refreshingly candid and vivid image of utter madness, Delasantellis mentions the urging of American consumers to spend their stimulus / rebate checks on "more imported Chinese home electronics."

Additional notes

(3) We don't make much hi-tech consumer stuff here no more.

(4) We ARE the world's #1 arms dealer with about 50% of market share.

Of course, the reason the Fed lowered interest rates so often, so fast, and so much is to keep the stock markets propped up. After all, as long as the markets are up, the economy is doing well. No?

The key conclusions:

[A] By selling controlling interests in 100's of LARGE (formerly U.S.) companies and U.S. government debt, America has sold away the right and the ability to control its own economic destiny. U.S. economic woes have been self-inflicted.

[B] Elsewhere, the economies of China-India-Russia-Brazil are going well. There's a party going on. We're not invited.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Great Western Delusion

Jean Bricmont has an thoughtful piece today in Counterpunch:

Per Bricmont, The Great Western Delusion sees a world full of peoples "oppressed by their own governments, run by political dictators and economic mismanagers" seeking support of liberation "by the good, democratic, liberal, open market West."

IMO, the GWD is one of several "pleasing" narrative - spun by politicians, op-ed writers, talking heads from the military-industrial-infotainment-financial complex - to help gin up support for the latest invasion and occupation efforts (politico-military blunder), the first in a series of such narratives.

Any and all dissent to the newest "mission (invasion - occupation)" is handled by a another "pleasing" narratives - those who oppose the war do not support the brave troops, and are thus de facto traitors. Dissenters are liberals and intellectuals who spit on the troops.

Once the invasion mission has "been accomplished", another "pleasing" narrative emerges - how wonderful our war-making technology has worked and how heroic our sacrificing soldiers are. Video-game like coverage of the war plays non-stop on cable news (while the cable news rating spike upward).

As the occupation continues, and the occupied "dead-enders and terrorists" resist, yet another narrative emerges. Because of the "dead-enders and terrorists" "our troops" have to stay to "complete the mission" - to bring freedom to the freedom loving peoples of this invaded and occupied nation.

The final narratives start to play out when the things get so bad - meaning "our things" - our soldiers' blood and the hemorrhaging our nation's treasury, as well as "our" costs for food, housing, transportation, education, infrastructure maintenance and repair rising because of inflation as the government prints more money to keep funding the war ever higher levels.

Yes when things get so bad for US, that "we" decide to remove our occupying army.

Since the world's sole super-power, with all of it's technological might, and the best soldiers in the world could not "win" the invasion and occupation, obviously, the "war" was not prosecuted as it should have been. Better administration / planning would have saved the day. The competence of the current political administration is questioned. The pleasing narrative - "had but the war been prosecuted more competently, we would have won."

Then someone must give the order to withdraw the troops. Whomever that President is, will come to be viewed as "The President Who Lost the War." Presidents would prefer to resign office rather than be known as a war-losing President.

As time begins to elapse post-withdrawal, the final narratives begin. The first narrative is spun by the military. "We were on the verge of victory, but our hands were tied behind our back. We were but six months short of total victory when the liberals, the hippies, the intellectuals, the Democrats forced us to withdraw."

And the final narrative is wound and spun -- we were not defeated by an external enemy, but by an enemy within - by traitors within our midst. We were stabbed in the back. Never again. Round them all up, all the traitors, or, at least, keep a very watchful eye on them. Telecoms - take note.

I mention in passing that the viewpoints of all such narratives are U.S.-centric. The calculus of the death, the misery, the destruction, the physical and psychological devastation to the living and murdered souls of the land invaded - "collateral damage" - another pleasing narrative, much more palatable than murdered and mutilated children, women, civilians, hospital workers, merchants, teachers, office workers, laborers, families, is virtually NEVER a consideration.

One of the lessons learned from the American Invasion and Occupation of Vietnam was DO NOT under any circumstances ever again show the public uncensored pictures of war.

Echoing Tom Englehardt, this key graf from Bricmont's piece:

The reason it is a delusion is that it misses the fundamental change in the 20th century, at least the one which has had the greatest long lasting impact. This is not the history of fascism or of communism, which indeed belong to the past, but decolonization. Not only did this movement free hundreds of millions of people from a particularly brutal form of racist domination, but it inverted what had been the dominant trend in the history of the world since the end of the 16th century, namely the movement of European expansion. The 20th century marked the decline of Europe, and the replacement of Europe by the US as the center of the world system is likely to be short lived.


The problem of the US and Western elites is not only that they are willing to pursue violent policies in favour of their interests, but that they also pursue violent policies against their interests, because of their unbounded arrogance. We no longer control the world and great miseries follow from the non acceptance of this fact.

Monday, May 26, 2008

This Election (Too) Can Be Stolen

I'm very troubled by the venom being spewed by supporters of both Senators Clinton and Obama.

Maybe that's "just politics as usual." Well, politics as usual has not been working so well for me for the last ... interesting thought (for another post).

I commented extensively today on this piece by Digby:

The "narrative(s)" for a McCain victory have already been written, aided and abetted by the level of vitriol on the left, i.e.,

(a) The "eruption" within the Democratic party between "rabid" Clinton supporters and "cultist" Obama supporters [with a McCain election seen as the Clinton's final stab-in-the back to the Party]

(b)The "racism" of white Northern "blue collar" workers [again inflamed by the Clintons - so the narrative will go]

(c) The generic "elitist slur" being hurled like hand grenades at an Obama candidacy (replaying remarks already made by Clinton to the same effect)

(d) The general "ennui" of the "public" that the Democrats weren't even able to get "their" act together to nominate a candidate until June / July -- unless something "interesting" occurs at the Democratic Convention -- "a shriek", "violence in the streets", failure to nominate on the first ballot, a brokered convention -- all ablaze before the eyes of the country which concludes "We can't really trust the Democratic Party" (and don't doubt for one second that there will be republican operative at the convention stirring up boat loads of trouble. Replay Chicago, 1968 ).

(e) The "luster" coming off of Obama as he came to "see himself as the annointed one" and a "control freak" to boot.

(f) Attention to focus on Michelle Obama -- with inevitable comparisons between her academic and professional career with ... the academic and professional career of ... the 42nd President's wife. Elect Obama and get another first lady just like ...

That's how the narratives will go, should McCain "win" the election.

Narratives notwithstanding, this election can still be stolen.

1. What has been done about the disenfranchisement of Black voters in Florida -- via the fictious felons' list from 2000?

2. What has been done to speed up voting lines in Ohio -- in the inner cities; at the college campuses?

3. What plans does the Obama campaign have to ensure that the vote that can be gotten out will be allowed to vote? What plans does the DNC have to see that stronghold voters will be able to vote conveniently?

In states where Republicans control the apparatus of voting - be assured, the inner cities will have fewer voting booths per precinct, and address changes of precincts happening with little notice.

Similar shenanigans will occur at "liberal" universities in states with Republicans in control.

Whomever wins the Democratic nomination, an dilligent ground effort will be required in all 50 states, but especially in "swing states" where the Republican party controls the voting apparatus. And that requires boots on the ground. And that means a united combined effort of all factions of the Democratic party, no matter whom their partisan candidate.

Without such an effort, IF this election can be stolen, it WILL be stolen. Right in plain sight. And with the MSM all in line (remember, their corporate owners have a vested interest Republican politicians; and failing that, they'll take the most corporate-compliant Democrat).

And if the election IS stolen, there will be sufficient finger-pointing and name-calling on the left to obscure the larger issue of theft (once again).