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Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Obama cynical?

In the same way we wondered if Bush was evil or just stupid, now we are confronted with the almost same question in an only slightly new guise: is Obama just bland or is he cynical?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It takes more than that to buy me!

Here, in an exquisite and unnoticed example of candor, Rick Perry says he's offended at the suggestion he can be bought for as little as $5,000. You can almost hear him saying, "It takes a lot more than that to buy me!"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Enough with the Bashing!

Guess what? Uncle Sam has an Uncle! He's my Uncle Dave, and he is one of the smartest, kindest, most talented, most dedicated, most learned men I know. A good soul.

But like a lot of Uncles, he's very committed to his world view, and often sends me what I deem hysterical, ultra-conservative rants about Israel. He is very pro-Israel.

So there's a brouhaha going on about the status of Jerusalem, whether it's "in" Israel. So Uncle Dave sent me this article: Now, I basically agree with Uncle Dave on Jerusalem. It's part of Israel. How could it not be? At the same time, the UN mandate is still the prevailing legal authority in this matter. There is a reason Jerusalem has special status, and the trick is to both keep the Jews as the caretakers in some way, but of a city that is equally the province of all mankind, and certainly of the Big Three religions.

What's really important here, as I've mentioned before, when responding to an article like the one referenced above, is the answer to the question: does this help us achieve our goal? And, again, the answer is no. The unhelpful, inflammatory, and, more important, incredibly repetitive, idiosyncratic and uninspired words used to describe the situation can only alienate and further extend the gap. Even if you don't like the office holder, the office of President of the USA alone deserves better than these words to describe it: mischief, furtive, pranks, deceptions. We're talking about our own White House, and even if we disagree, there are ways to express yourself. If your goal is to blow off steam and feel good, this type of prose might be helpful. If your goal is to have a positive impact, then there's no reason to be so disrespectful. Real, grown up, professional diplomacy doesn't rest on ridiculing the other party. It's obnoxious, and counterproductive. I can tell you I could figure out this is a right wing screed just from the nasty tone, even if the subject were left out.

This article asks: "Do his munchkins really think they can get away with such sleazy sleights of hand?" You can disagree with what Obama is doing, but there is no reason to demean like this. These are not munchkins, they are men; men of great power and intelligence and authority. I would even say moral authority. Especially now that we have a brown President, we have to be ultra careful not to say things that imply he is not a full man. Jews especially should be sensitive to this issue, given the history of their own persecution, and also given the history of support for people of color. Why throw that out the window? It's insulting to the majority of Jews that have worked hard to show respect. This and many other examples reveals the moral bankruptcy of the author, not the subject, of the essay. While pointing the finger at our current administration, three fingers are pointing back at the accuser.

Oh, and they're not Islamists. They're Muslims.

Big Mike breaks it down!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Forget Pakistan

I know sometimes I can be a bit of a blowhard. As liberal as I am at heart, I still bleed red, white and blue. And so I just gotta say, thank God they finally got Osama. But I also want to say: Pakistan has been shitting on us and taking our money for 10 years and it’s gotta stop. There is no way we ought to continue to put up with that.

In today’s New York Times, the Pakistan government, probably as a cover for the extreme embarrassment or, worse, complicity in having the world’s most wanted criminal living in luxury a few miles from their capital and #1 military training center, said that our incursion into their country was a crime, that they would retaliate, and blah blah blah.

Here are the facts: Whether or not a crowd of thugs chanting USA! USA! after somebody gets killed makes you quesy (it makes me quesy), there is simply no doubt that Osama bin Laden was a really messed up, bad guy, who has the blood of thousands, and probably tens of thousands, of human lives on his hands. Not only did he admit (brag) about it, there is, as they say, a preponderance of evidence that he was really and truly behind some very heinous acts of terrorism. Try this link:

The other interesting fact is that the USA carried out an extra-judicial killing and made it totally public. This is a new MO for us, and obviously I am all for it. I applaud the transparency, and willingness of our President to send real people in to kill him, vs. the bombing the bunker approach most of his aides favored.

But now that Osama dead, where from here?

We’re giving Pakistan $1.5 billion per year. That’s $15 billion dollars since 9-11. What if Obama said in the coming days, “I’ve reviewed the budget, with an eye to fiscal responsibility, and it occurs to me that Pakistan is actually not our friend at all, and in fact is completely playing us for fools.” And then cut that line item? And then gave that money to the American people? We would all get a check for $1,500! Take that Mr. “it’s your money” George Bush!

The whole nature of this “aid” we give their corrupt, lying and inept government is that they are using us as a chess piece in their game against India. All they want is 1) our money, 2) for the current state of chaos to continue forever in a condition where they manage the source of the disruptions as the sponsors, sub rosa, of the Taliban, particularly of the radical, or Al Quada, part of the Taliban.

Bush, who was behind starting this “special relationship,” realized how lame our position was toward the end, and Obama knew it from the beginning, but hasn’t had any cover to get out of it, perhaps, and hopefully, until now. Nor has he had any cover to bail on Afghanistan, again, hopefully, until now.

Karzai is an international criminal, another true bad guy, and not our friend in any way. We need to stop playing nice with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and probably a bunch of other “Stans” as well. Why? Because it’s only going to get worse, so we might as well take our medicine now. We cannot be the world’s policeman, and in that sense I am with Ron Paul.

So Barack Obama, now’s your chance. Get us the hell out.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Arab Spring

Arab Spring now turns to Summer. The ripples from waves after wave of revolutionary fervor, for what can only be described as democracy pure and simple, now reach back from that region to our own shores, and they are heading for us. And so we find in ourselves and our dialog and our policy a feeling of foreboding, of fear even, as if somehow we too might be in harm's way. And, indeed, we do seem somehow to be stuck right in the middle of the whole thing, both temporaly, with uncertain outcomes abounding, and philosophically, with ironies and paradoxes about the USA being both the champion of democracy and the defender of its enemies.

In times such as these it might behoove us to step back and ask: what is really going on?

I hate to say it, and as a critic of the Iraq War I know it will appear contradictory and likely to alienate my peace loving confederates, but it appears that it is precisely the brutal campaign of shock and awe and ultimately regime change that ironically inspired what we are witnessing today.

Whoever we believe, whatever the real reason, it remains incontrovertibly true that in the spring of 2003 the United States of America initiated a shocking and awful war against the government, and people, of Iraq, which in the first four years resulted in the loss of anywhere between 100,000 and a million human lives, depending on which source you choose, and cost, according to a conservative estimate by Paul Stiglitz, former chief economist of the World Bank and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, over three trillion dollars to the USA alone.

Quite simply, this incredible and unaffordable loss of money and human life, in all its sloppiness, bluntness and literally overkill, showed the Arab world that even a leader as intractable as Saddam Hussein could be ousted. Needless to say, this is a horrible price to pay to provide such an illustration. But now that the fire has been ignited, we ought to be honest about the context. Obviously, the current climate of war and revolution finds its origins in several sources, but to deny that what we are witnessing today grows from what we started only a few years ago is to deny ourselves the opportunity to do the right thing now.

A few caveats. First, I am not saying, as many on the far right are, that this fact makes the war more justifiable. I have always argued that our aims could be far better achieved by dropping a few hundred thousand Ipads loaded with some good chat software and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest translated into Arabic over the Middle East.

Second, Shock and Awe is just the original cause. The proximate cause is, of course, Wikileaks and what it did to a Tunisian fruit seller named Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire and ignited the Arab Revolution. The revelations made public in the secret cables from the US Ambassador, of the amazing corruption of President Ben Ali and his family, infuriated the Tunisian population in a way nothing but the truth can do.

And third, the cause is obviously the entire history of oppressive government in that region. So it's not just the war. And while my point is not that the war is then to be praised, it is rather to draw a contrast between the amazing expenditure that it represented, and how a much smaller expenditure on our part toward the efforts being made today would yield such a more efficient result.

Syria is gunning down its own people, so far hundreds of them. But the US won't even freeze Bashar Al-Assad's assets (they are only freezing his brother's). No one would argue that Syria is a bad place and Bashar, like his father Hefez, are bad people, but because of strategic considerations, we won't support the democracy movement there. We refused to help Libya until Sarkozy and the Arab League forced our hand. Saudi Arabia is a brutal monarchy, utterly opposed to democracy and human rights (and equal rights), teaches its children that Jews are the devil and to devote themselves to a lifelong hatred of Israel and the US, and yet we continue to sponsor them to this day. Egypt was no better, and our country threw - since the Peace Accords, over $65 billion - down what turned out to be the drain trying to keep Egypt on our side and help their government repress its people.

How could the very country that invented the idea that it is virtuous to overthrow your government when it's oppressing you be so unable and unwilling to live up to its ideals? And why do we kill ourselves (for that is always what we do when we kill others) mounting these over-the-top, blunt assaults that are maximally inefficient, only to fail to grasp the opportunity to do so much good so much more efficiently, as we now could do in the Middle East?

It seems the greatest danger in making mistakes as massive as the ones we continue to make is drawing the wrong lessons from them. The only good thing to come out of Iraq is the Arab Revolution! Forget how or who or why, but all the same, the Arab world got to see with their own eyes that governments could come toppling down. And forget how much we've defiled our own values, these values are, despite every perversion to which they have been subjected, they are still at the core of what motivates those fighting for freedom today in scores of countries around the world. But because of the massive stupidity of Iraq, we now are afraid to raise a finger. But that is drawing the wrong lesson. Even the slightest help, even One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest translated into Arabic, would yield a giant result.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Legalize It!

When do we finally legalize marijuana? I think soon. It used to be legal in this country from whenever it first started being used, probably the early 17th century, until the early 19th century. By the 1930’s it was completely illegal. Almost 80 years later it’s returning to being legal, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

It’s a plant! The idea that the government can tell us what plants to grow strikes me as outside the purview of government. Maybe I can get some Republicans to agree with me on this on the basis of limiting big government. In any event, governments are beginning to pass laws recognize the rights of plants and animals, and I think it’s high time, as it were, that we do the same. Plants and powders are not the same thing. Let’s let people and plants coexist!

But the main reason to legalize pot is that keeping it illegal is feeding a horrible war with the mafia that we are losing every day and will continue to lose. So many innocent people are being killed, and terrorism is beginning to flourish on our borders. I know people had their reasons to oppose Prop 19, but this is a real sick thing that is happening, and the war is just going to get closer and closer until we're in it. We have to own up to our own natures, and certainly not criminalize acting on needs that, even at their worst, amount to sadness, lack of love or loneliness. Prohibition does not work. Transparency and compassion do.

I know that many who opposed Prop 19 were persuaded that it wouldn't cut into cartel profits because of the other drugs they traffic in. I disagree. Others erroneously pointed out that the Feds wouldn't allow California to do this. Come on. With the present administration, the DEA would not be encouraged to mix it up here. Then of course, some of our friends up Humboldt way were afraid of upsetting the status quo and losing their illegal income, and I don't blame them, but the only way to change the ridiculous and archaic pot prohibition is with baby steps like prop 19.

Conservatives must have been in a quandary over this one. Fiscal conservatives would have to have known that it would have brought a new agri-business into the legitimate market place and provided a built-in tax base (meaning, it would help to mitigate the need to raise other taxes.) But cultural conservatives see drugs as drugs and many make no distinction between the occasional toker and a heroin addict of 20 years. The growers would not have lost much business, if any at all. Prop 19 allowed for small quantity growing and possession. Most smokers do not want to be saddled with the meticulously demanding task of growing. And Prop 19 did NOT allow for people to grow pot for sale except for medical marijuana growers. I think it was a mistake for the backers of Prop 19 to introduce it in a mid-term election when the turn-out of likely voters in support of legal pot would be lower than during a presidential election year.

Anyway, my suggestion: Try again in two years. I bet the result is different. Indeed, maybe it's good Jerry Brown doesn't have to deal with this on his plate on top of everything else. He could really show himself a consensus builder now. Legal pot is going to be a huge public mess, and it can't help but tarnish the credentials of the guy in charge. And if that guy is governor moonbeam, even worse. Anyway, the above is my two cents, and after this election, I think everybody now knows it's a question of when.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Real Slim Shady

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up? Please! Yes, I know there is quite a bit on his plate, and he's clearly not afraid to bite into everything. But something is missing, and it’s come to the point that everybody kinda knows. What's missing is an overarching expression of what all these bites add up to. Ironically, he came into office promising radical change, but we're less clear from him than almost anybody of: What does a world that works look like so we can all do our part? We crave, and need to hear, from his perspective, what's broken and how it might get fixed. Without an articulated vision of where we are all going, the sum of these parts will remain elusive.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Jerry's Back!

Jerry Brown Wins for governor of California!

Tonight he said: "I see a California once again leading in renewable energy, and public education, and an openness to every kind of person, whatever their color is. I mean, we’re all gods children. And, while I’m really into this politics thing, I still carry with me my sense of kind of that missionary zeal to transform the world. And that’s always been a part of what I do. So I understand the political part, but I also understand what it’s all about: the vision. And I’m hoping, and I’m praying, that this breakdown, that’s gone on for so many years in the state capital, and we’re watching it in Washington, that the breakdown paves the way for a breakthrough. And that’s the spirit that I wanna take back to Sacramento 28 years later."

Jerry Brown rocks. Let's get behind him and help transform California into the world leader it rightfully is.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Strangest Dream

I dreamt our President gave this speech last night:

My Fellow Americans

This is the fourth time I have addressed you from the oval office of the White House. I speak to you this evening about an issue of great national importance, which is what our priorities are as a nation. I'd like to get us all on the same page about what our focus is, so let me review what I've been focusing on so far.

As your President, I have striven to provide you with, first, the best defense money can buy. And that money can't buy too. That only 232 years of democracy can provide. And our 3 million men and women in uniform are a testament to that. Despite the fact that I might place a greater emphasis on diplomacy than perhaps my predecessor, I nonetheless have not skimped on defense, and honestly believe we need to be strong to be free, and that sometimes the threat of war can keep the peace.

Next I've tried to get the economy working. I don't think anyone who didn't have an inside view understands how great the threat of total collapse was as I was entering office. And it was my job to make a decision at a very early phase in my presidency. I saw us sinking fast and I chose to bail us out. Now, sometimes government has to be activist, as _both_ parties in recent times have proved. Or, at least tried to prove. The problem is that when you can avoid smashing against the rocks, it's hard to argue that if we hadn't acted we would have smashed. Because the only record we have now is of having avoided the rocks. So it's easy for people to say: how bad could it have been? But if you got to talk to who I got to talk to, well, you would've seen that we came this close to another great depression.

Third I've tried to make government actually and practically work, so that it can work for you. Our administration has an unprecedented record of low level changes that really make a difference. Even though a lot of this work goes unreported, I can tell you tonight that the government is running smoothly, that we have streamlined a great many processes, and that we have carried out a number of initiatives that make a big difference to a lot of individual people.

Now we face a challenge to our best efforts. Does it come in the form of a right wing conspiracy? No. Does it come in the form of a left wing conspiracy? That dog won't hunt either. It just comes from this idea of the other side as other, as not us. And so my fourth goal, to bring us together, now becomes my top goal. Because if we can't work together, freedom easily becomes freedoom. I challenge every member of government to remember the words of JFK and stop asking what your country can do for you, and ask what you can do for your country.

I invite every american, and indeed every world citizen, to consider the model we are now offering. It is not one of weakness, but it is one of compassion. It is not lame, but it doesn't need to prove it's not. It's not soft; it's sensitive. Because lives hang in the balance. I think it's really important in these times to be calm, reasonable and measured. The vision is there. You can see it if you're willing to look.

It's of an America where tolerance is a very high value. And of a vision where tolerance is transcended by acceptance, and who knows, maybe even welcoming!

My goals for the next six years, yes, I am in it for the long haul, is to not just protect us, which I can do and am doing, but it is to go after the enemy in a different way, in a way where we can actually declare victory by 2016, because we've given the real human lives who live behind who we call "the enemy" a way to live without wanting to kill. Yes, it's fun to have an other, an enemy, but I'm here to tell those guys those days are over. Because they have to be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

President Obama brings me to what?

When Barack Obama visited China, a cute girl in the audience became the focus of a huge number of articles in the Chinese media. She responded in her blog,

President Obama brings me to what? (2009-11-24 13:02:46)

Tags: Original Zatan

Event Playback:

Sina today, the staff of the teachers through the school made contact with me the hope that I can look through the blog to express their feelings.

Obama attended the dialogue meeting with China's youth day, students came I quarters, said: "You are online red!" And helped me found a "behind Obama's black" At that time there have been some news that I learned this, the forum also have different opinions, the comments of some very elegant I am very angry, so would like to reply excuse can be very busy as usual, did not enter some mainstream forums, when I delivered a message to be displayed when I have to login, there is no account should apply for. Misunderstanding to see the news has been with the hour increments, I think that by virtue of the strength of a person simply can not shake the network transmission speed, even if the excuse is it's pale and weak, so I have adopted an evasive attitude, recently inquired about the matter SMS and phone has been constantly, I have every right to ask friends who are warning: "Do not to disclose any information, I do not go to points, relevant news, and so everyone's enthusiasm over two days, and posts will sink of the. "contingent things not my expectation, my silence instead give rise to more speculation. To communicate with the staff after Sina, I think, through this platform with you sincerely to say something is a good solution.

A self-hype?

Relevant media calm demeanor and self-confidence through the eyes of a student I can not be inferred, however, I hereby declare that I was a National Chiao Tung University students in reading. There is no innate confidence, and only continued to develop confidence. I have to admit that my quality of this aspect of my childhood with his family culture and well-separated from the scene, I am six years old the first time the violin and performed, and filmed even after thedrama, did host, image ambassador, have received a lot of interviews (by virtue of which is my personal efforts and natural gift of how many lucky in no way rely on any outside force to take. We can not because of dissatisfaction with the real world events, they negate everything), so for the camera I is no stranger to the front of the camera will not be nervous, but it may be placed for the evaluation of film I find it very odd, I think I said, you also clearly do not we see how the U.S. president to go through strict security checks, in addition to other journalists who are not can take the camera into the venue, and our students have even mobile phones are not allowed in, how to self-hype? Moreover, I also thought about things and therefore red, thoughtful people are clear, entertainment news like tea, the first talk like washing tea, no use, too little attention to the person. Perhaps the second and third will overflow aroma, but in the end the more goods, the more light. After several rounds, who would remember me? I can do for you is left behind? Before I shoot a film performances are just out of interest and personal favorite, but also out of touch of the existing rebellion psychological point of view, because of the general people for high-educated women have a misconception, I hope that through me into some problems that are inherent in the view. However, we must never thought to enter the entertainment circle, so in the face of television media, signed letters of appointment and culture I have rejected the book, I am by no means it is not other-worldly air did not hesitate and hesitant, but I think that economic management should be part of My longer-term one way, so I have to study hard and was admitted to the University entrance examination is normal rather than art into a class identity.

Second, why do I sit in that position?

Participate in the meeting of the students from Shanghai's nine colleges and universities, each school is allocated a fixed seat, I am sitting at a table is the National Chiao Tung University, one share of seats, without special debugging. But also there are some people's point of view on the mirror is much better than me, why they are not speculative purposes? As for the sitting of the correct, we know that this meeting will be broadcast live worldwide via the Internet, I represent not only my own image, the image of our school, but also represent our country's image, how do I relax?

Third, why do I want to publicly take off jacket?

Because it is an important meeting, needs to wear a dress to show respect. I chose to highlight their fear of simple black shirt, but in Shanghai a few days ago the weather or the weather we should have a country feel. Clearly remember the day when Shanghai was also raining in the morning only a few degrees above zero, I wear a jacket should also be reasonable that bar. We entered the hall waiting to enter the venue I'll coat off, and then Obama did not appear, I know where there will be a press photo at this time. Because Obama is wearing a suit, so the actual temperature of the venue is not particularly high, I wish I could have been wearing, but if I'm really wearing a red jacket appears in the lens, in accordance with User's comments I was not more of the want to be famous like crazy?

4, for comment on the attitude of

Although the individual comments from netizens wounding, but you can understand, maybe just through me to certain phenomena of social criticism, but in this I became an innocent victim. But for some of the influential person on the network, not after an investigation on the big comment, actually claimed that it had female officials in the self-hype, in the dialogue meeting between China's youth actually appear on the female officials? Did you even read the title failed to make improper comments, and wants to know that you are the leader in public opinion, such an irresponsible move in the end is to hurt someone else or in violation of its own credibility?

Destruction of people as long as the word, to cultivate a person have to 1000 words, mouth Xia Liuqing Bar ~

Mystery has been lifted, we no longer have to bother guessing, the most recent study life plagued by a certain hope that will quickly restore calm, I like small animals, because they are so cute and simple. Hope that after this I can continue to do simply self. Presented a small kangaroo photo, I wish you happy, all the best ~

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It's Everybody's Bible

This Dobson Accuses Obama of 'Distorting' Bible set of headlines is really one of the sickest flailings yet to emerge from the McCain side of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

In a nutshell, James Dobson, a right wing evangelist who has a huge following and a radio show called Focus on the Family, has said of Obama: "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson went on to say: "He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

So what did Obama do? He simply raised the very important question about how to interpret the Bible, asking what do we want to take literally and what don’t we. Obama preached tolerance and acceptance of our emerging diversity. He said, "Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers. And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's?"

Obama pointed to passages such as the Sermon on the Mount, and sections of Leviticus that refer to Jewish dietary law and asked questions such as whether we accept the slave-owning laws along with the more relevant laws. It was this attempt by Obama to refer to these different sections that most offended Dobson. Dobson essentially said how dare Obama equate these Old and New Testament portions -- hence his “gutter” comment.

I think it’s critical at this juncture that the Obama camp hit back hard at what is clearly the most obvious vulnerability of Dobson’s attack. Namely, Lou Dobson is being anti-Semetic by refusing to include Old testament theology in what he deems are valid biblical sources.

As most of the Muslim world knows, I, Uncle Sam, am somewhat Jewish (that's part of why I get called the "American Satan"), and so I can assure Mr. Dobson that Jewish dietary laws are neither trivial nor archaic. Whether from that book we call the Tree of Life, also known as the Five Books of Moses, what most would acknowledge is the foundation of the religion we call Christianity, it is absolutely valid to use as examples the Sermon on the Mount and the Hebrew laws of the Kashrut. There is nothing distorted about using not just these two, but any two (or more) biblical passages to learn about what teachings to truly take away from the Bible. Indeed, ancient Talmudic scholars would often debate by sticking a pin through the Bible, and then the Rabbis would discuss all the ways a divine thread links all the verses touched by the pin.

As Jews, we find God himself alive in these simple dietary laws Dobson derides. Indeed, we find Him most alive and exhalted when we carry these laws out. By living God’s law in our daily acts we create heaven on earth.

Mr. Dobson, you can keep telling your followers the lie that all they need to do is believe to be saved. The rest of us will continue our focus on the day-to-day things we can do to make a Godly world a reality here on earth. And I think we’re in increasing agreement that one of those things is to come together to elect Barack Obama President of the United States.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Article from Chris Durang

Hi America!

If anything makes me vote against Hillary (besides her war vote), it’s the vibe I get of the kind of operation she runs. It’s apparently a really gross club of egomaniacs, old school nasties and rat-f*#%ers (that's actually a political term from the Nixon days), infant terribles and power-hungry politico-freaks that I do not want assuming the core leadership positions of my country. Doesn’t it count for something that Obama has maintained amazing espirit de corps and discipline of the troops in a decidedly non-Republican way? Or that the management style of Obama’s campaign would obviously to some extent translate to the White House? I won’t print it all here, but read this amazing diatribe on what it’s like inside Team Hillary and tell me why it will be that different were she to be Prez, or for that matter, that it’s that different from what Bill’s romp was?

And now, with one day to go before Pennsylvania votes, Chris Durang wrote a great, if somewhat rambling, piece for the Huffington Post today. He really pulls some key facts out of the whole melange to make the case against Hilary and for Obama, so I’ll just let him take it away:

Obama, not at the time in the Senate, gave a speech against the war that was smart and saw many of the problems that we ended up having with this wrong invasion. (Here's the speech.)

But consider two other things about Hillary's vote:

There was a substantial number of Democrats, unlike Hillary, who indeed voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to go to war (if and when he felt like it).

21 of 50 Democratic Senators voted against the resolution. That's 42% of Democratic Senators who Hillary did not join in voting against the authorization.

Those 21 Democrats were: Senators Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV), Conrad (D-ND), Corzine (D-NJ), Dayton (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Graham (D-FL), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Sarbanes (D-MD), Stabenow (D-MI), Wellstone (D-MN), Wyden (D-OR).

Also voting against it was 1 Republican, Sen. Chafee (R-RI), and one independent, Sen. Jeffords (I-VT).

All those Senators, some of whom took the time to read the N.I.E. which included some of the intelligence opinion that did NOT favor invasion, voted against the resolution. Senator Durbin in particular urged people to read the N.I.E. and said it influenced his decision to vote against authorization. But the pressure to go to war was high, and most Senators did not read it. (I think Hillary did not; I came across articles where it seems she refused to answer if she had. Then I gave up looking.)

However, there was something else Hillary did not vote for. She did not vote for the Levin amendment, offered at the same time, that would have caused the president to return to Congress one more time before deciding to invade Iraq.

I came across an op-ed piece written by Senator Chafee (the one Republican who was against the authorization). It describes the amendment well.

And Hillary's not voting for this is a further example of bad judgment by her (and many other Senators). Because it's about war, and many have died (Americans and Iraqis) and five years later it's still not done. So this was a serious lapse in judgment.

I hope you'll read the whole Chafee piece but here are some quotes from it:

A mere 10 hours before the roll was called on the administration-backed Iraq war resolution, the Senate had an opportunity to prevent the current catastrophe in Iraq and to salvage the United States' international standing. Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, offered a substitute to the war resolution, the Multilateral Use of Force Authorization Act of 2002.

Senator Levin's amendment called for United Nations approval before force could be authorized. It was unambiguous and compatible with international law. Acutely cognizant of the dangers of the time, and the reality that diplomatic options could at some point be exhausted, Senator Levin wrote an amendment that was nimble: it affirmed that Congress would stand at the ready to reconsider the use of force if, in the judgment of the president, a United Nations resolution was not "promptly adopted" or enforced. Ceding no rights or sovereignty to an international body, the amendment explicitly avowed America's right to defend itself if threatened.

...To a senator, we all had as our objectives the safety of American citizens, the security of our country and the disarming of Saddam Hussein in compliance with United Nations resolutions. But there was a steadfast core of us who believed that the tactics should be diplomacy and multilateralism, not the "go it alone" approach of the Bush doctrine.

Those of us who supported the Levin amendment argued against a rush to war. We asserted that the Iraqi regime, though undeniably heinous, did not constitute an imminent threat to United States security, and that our campaign to renew weapons inspections in Iraq -- whether by force or diplomacy -- would succeed only if we enlisted a broad coalition that included Arab states.

We also urged our colleagues to take seriously the admonitions of our allies in the region -- Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. As King Abdullah of Jordan warned, "A miscalculation in Iraq would throw the whole area into turmoil."

Unfortunately, these arguments fell on deaf ears in that emotionally charged, hawkish, post-9/11 moment, less than four weeks before a midterm election. The Levin amendment was defeated by a 75 to 24 vote. Later that night, the Iraq War Resolution was approved, 77 to 23.

Hillary was one of the 29 Democrats who joined the Republicans to make 77 votes authorizing this war that has turned out to be a disaster and an enormous economic drain.

There were 21 Democrats who knew better. As did Barack Obama (and Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi and many Democratic Congress people).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

We’ve heard it bleated to death: Barack Obama’s claim that the reason people resist supporting him is because they’re bitter about the economy, and so hold on to the values they know, their religion and their guns, and become single issue voters. The point he made is so obviously true it’s amazing he was even challenged on it. But in a low blow in a campaign of low blows, Hillary Clinton decided this was her best shot, and she took it. Playing to the mob, and indeed the lowest common denominator in the mob, she pounced with all her Battle of the Bulge remaining resources, and yelled to the crowd, “He’s saying you’re stupid! He’s talking about you, you idiots!” If there ever was a cynical ploy, this was it.


The saddest and most ironic thing about it is that at the end of a pretty impressive liberal career, fighting Watergate, fighting for Health Care, fighting for women’s issues, Hillary has been so bludgeoned by the “right wing conspiracy” that she has actually become more than its victim, she’s become it’s puppet. After Ken Starr and the humiliation of the whole scandal-plagued presidency of her husband, which she really did seem to have stuck with to have her own shot at the title,  she’s so scarred by the “republican playbook” that she can’t help but, in her death thoes, emulate it. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome, the documented strange human quality where you begin to identify with your tormentors. Hillary’s demagoguery defines her finally as those she’s fought to expose. Who but she knows better the truth in Obama’s explanation. The “bitter” ploy was base and baseless.


Since this website is rapidly turning into “What Obama Should Say Now,” let’s just conjure with that theme a little further and offer our best thoughts on his response. Tonight is the debate, and I think he should say, “Sorry if the truth hurts, but this is a big country, and that’s the way some people are. If you’re not used to this kind of straight talk, get used to it. Because if I’m President you’re going to hear a lot more of it. Until we’re honest about who we are, we’re not going to change how we are.” The other thing he could say, or point out, or somebody other than him could point out, is that he was being nice. He was essentially being asked why people might be prejudiced against voting for him, and rather than say “Because they’re racist,” he said, “Because they’re hurt.” That’s the mark of who he is, and that’s emblematic of the new politics he’s been talking about. He should, and we should, be proud of that.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Torch Has Been Taken Hostage!

Protests in the city streets tonight. Olympic torch ironically headed for China due in San Francisco tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow San Francisco will take the torch hostage. It could happen. See it with me: A guy dressed as Spock gives the torch runner a Vulcan nerve pinch because he’s really a martial arts master and knows how to knock the guy out with the least amount of effort. Our eco-performance artist terroir-ist grabs the fallen torch, and he tosses it to his buddy who evades security by driving through the pylons in a Smart Car, whereupon a bike messenger whizzes by and snags it. The torch ends up at Land’s End broadcast by live video feed: “China! We have your torch! You will not see it again until you stop torturing innocents and free Tibet!” So we send it out, a live broadcast on the Internet. It would work even if we don’t capture it. Who would know? “We have your torch. We have taken it hostage. “

Cut to live video from our eco-cave, with a parallel feed on Mapquest, showing the suspected site of the sequestered torch. As authorities rush to the spot, the live video shows our heroes chucking it out to sea, via catapult, where the Greenpeace Warrior is waiting offshore. As it’s thrown the eco-hero yells: “China, come and get it!” The Warrior, populated by among others a few Burners Without Borders with long telescoping nets, reaches out and grabs the catapulted torch. Now the torch is 500 yards off shore on a boat with state of the art broadcasting. A call to arms goes out, as people from all over the Bay Area swarm the old Battery, the Presidio, and Lands End, massing on the cliffs, waiting for an attack by China. The city is actually at peace, but as performance art it's war, and anyway if it’s live on the Web and TV it's really happening. All over the world the story rings out: “San Francisco took the torch hostage!” Mayor Newsom is briefed, and he’s into the drama. He holds a news conference during the crisis, laughing, saying, “Well, looks like the torch has been taken hostage. It is crazy San Francisco. I hear some guy has the torch in a cave somewhere in the Presidio.”

I'm just saying it's: “Come and get me China!” time. I'm just having a vision. I see all of America coming to our shores to defend this country. Not against an attack by sea, but against an attack we don't see. We begin to say it together: “Free Tibet, China.” Uncle Sam sez: Let’s have the guts Reagan did when he stood up to the Berlin Wall. Let's make sure the message is not lost: Free these people, China.

~ US