Why is it that the Cheney Doctrine dictates that “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response”, yet we need a 99.99% level of certainty that climate change will completely disrupt the world as we know it before we can take even the most modest and incremental steps to reduce carbon emissions?
2 commentsFebruary 2nd, 2011 at 11:32amPosted by Eli
Swanson also reminds us how very much more Europeans get in return for their supposedly crushing tax burden, and how much we’re being hurt by our politicians’ stubborn refusal to even contemplate cutting our massive defense budget instead of Social Security.
1) Considering that Iran’s presidency is rather circumscribed and the Ayatollahs are the ones calling the shots, why are they letting a contested election stir up revolutionary fervor like this? The religious rulers used to allow toothless ineffectual moderates and “reformers” to be president to keep the people happy, why not now? Do they like Ahmadinejad that much? Do they want to send a message that their people haven’t gone soft over Obama? Or is there something else at stake that I’m completely missing? I just can’t believe that Ahmadinejad’s upside is worth the fire they’re playing with.
2) I know it’s kind of a moot point now, but since so many progressive representatives pledged not to vote for any Iraq supplemental that didn’t include a timeline for withdrawal… why didn’t Obama include one? He already presented a 16-month timeframe for withdrawal during his campaign, so why not put it in the supplemental to make it easier for progressives to vote Yea?
3) How is it that the same Republicans who wailed about how the Democrats weren’t supporting our troops every time they voted against a supplemental are doing the exact same thing now that it’s a Democratic president asking for the money. They’re still the same troops, right?
4) How is it that the possibility of 50-100 million people fleeing to a public healthcare plan the first chance they got is a flaw in the public option and not an indictment of the crapitude of our health insurance industry?
OMG! Obama offered to give up an unproven and probably ineffective missile defense system in exchange for help with Iran’s nuclear program! No wonder no-one takes Dems seriously on defense – they just don’t have a strong enough commitment to throwing billions of dollars at impractical and unnecessary weapons systems.
The victory of Barack Hussein Obama that we, along with the rest of the world, are witnessing today is another historic moment, not just for America but for the whole world by virtue of America’s huge influence, whether we like it or not. Personally I, like others, doubted Americans’ ability to overcome racism, but in electing “Abu Hussein,” they created a historic moment by accepting the first black president to govern not just America but the white West as a whole. With this, they removed all such doubts and the impossible dream of Martin Luther King became possible.
I can honestly say that we can finally wave goodbye to the overwhelming anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bigotry that we have suffered with for the past eight years under the Bush administration. We can expect less wars, less corruption, less political abuse. It won’t be perfect, but it will get better. I am so happy and proud of all the Americans who worked extremely hard for Obama, understanding fully well the importance of change in every sense of the word. This moment is not just historical but crucial to us here in the Middle East.
This is a win for all of us, not just America.
This is a win for civil rights and justice.
For all the pessimists out there, allow us to enjoy this moment. If you learned anything from this campaign, you would learn that it starts with hope — not cynicism. And hope is what I have right now, for America and the Middle East.
We can do it, and this time, we can be sure that we can do it together.
I haven’t said this in a really long time, but I am loving America right now.
My take on this is that he is the president of the United States, and not Barack Obama. That said, I would really like to hope for change. After all, Obama showed that change was possible: he himself changed from a supporter of Palestinian rights into a man who believes that Jerusalem is the historic capital of Israel. He also changed during his campaign from “No Iraq war for me please, I’m trying to quit” into “All right I’ll have some, but a tiny piece please.”
But the question that really interests me is about the relationship between Obama and the true center of world power, Kapital. There was an awful lot of money in Obama’s campaign … A great chunk must have come from carefully planned investments by C.E.O.’s and multinationals. Will Obama be able to confront the mega-corporations? Does he want to? The poor and the colored population of the world, including that of the U.S., is the one that suffers most from malnutrition and hunger and food insecurity. We know now that mega-corporations, pushing for more profit at any cost, are responsible for most of the damage. Will Obama do something about that? Does he want to? Can he?
I also said that Obama will strike a deal with Ahmadinejad on Iraq and in particular southern Iraq.
And lo and behold, the vice president for the booma Obama is none other than J. Biden. J. Biden, the Zionist, is an ardent supporter of the partition of Iraq into three statelets. No wonder Maliki & Co. were also backing the booma along with Iran. I also know that Iran had generously contributed to the Obama campaign.
… I shall not congratulate you on your 44th president. He will simply finish off what the other Zionists had started — the final partition of my country.
To hell with all of you and all of your presidents.
For me, this is not just about history, this is about someone who was able to bring down the very people that broke my country. It’s a great punch to the very people that destroyed the individual Iraqi. And that to me is an enough victory.
I will only have to say to Mr. Obama, don’t let us down.
There’s a lot of hope, but also a lot of well-earned bitterness and cynicism. I think the reality is probably going to be somewhere in the middle. I don’t think Obama will stray outside the bounds of our historical Middle East foreign policy, but he also won’t be nearly as callous or malevolent towards Arabs and Muslims as his predecessor.
It won’t be The Dawning Of A Brand New Day in American foreign policy, but at least we won’t be trying to rule by fear and gratuitous violence. Who knows, we might even stop bombing weddings.
She continued: “And there must be something about San Francisco and he because it’s like I heard on Fox News today, it’s like a truth serum where when he’s there, he seems to be more candid, and remember it was there that he talked about, there you go, the bitter clingers, the cling-ons, all of us, I guess, you know holding on to religion and guns and, um, so something about he being there in San Francisco.”
It sure would explain their foreign policy, although not their complete lack of courage or honor.
ASHLEY MARTELLA: Alirght, Iran has sworn to exterminate Israel as well as attack the United States. Does Barack Obama have the right stuff to bomb Iran if it came to that level?
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: Well, I worry about that. I worry that Sen. Obama’s world view is naive. Sen. McCain has been around awhile. He’s learned some things. I’ve traveled the world with him a lot. He’s, he will be the kind of president who our allies will trust, but who our enemies will fear. And in a dangerous world, al Qaeda, Iran, Iran trying to get a nuclear weapons, we want a president who our enemies will fear. I don’t believe that Sen. Obama will be that kind of president.
I share Lieberman’s faith that John McCain has the right stuff to bomb Iran, so much so that he wouldn’t even need a reason. Only I don’t think that that’s a good thing.
And remember, foreign policy is the area where McCain supposedly knows what he’s talking about – it’s on the economy where he admits he’s weak. Good thing the fundamentals are strong, so it won’t require a lot of presidential attention.
1 commentSeptember 18th, 2008 at 07:10amPosted by Eli
He met her in the bar of the swank hotel and invited her to his room. Once there, the woman fixed the drinks and told him to get undressed.
And that, the delegate to the Republican National Convention told police, was the last thing he remembered.
When he awoke, the woman was gone, as was more than $120,000 in money, jewelry and other belongings.
In a statement released today, Gabriel Nathan Schwartz, 29, of Denver, put the figure at much less.
“It’s embarrassing to admit that I was a target of a crime. I was drugged and had about $50,000 of personal items stolen, not the inflated number that the media is reporting from an inaccurate police report,” he said.
“As a single man, I was flattered by the attention of a beautiful woman who introduced herself to me. I used poor judgment.”
The haul included a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a necklace valued at $5,000, earrings priced at $4,000 and a Prada belt valued at $1,000, police said.
(Poor judgment? By a Republican? That’s unpossible!) Now here’s the beauty part:
During the convention, Schwarz wasn’t shy about talking to the media. In an Associated Press article about Sen. John McCain’s acceptance speech, Schwartz was quoted as saying that as far as oratorical skills go, McCain “has more experience in his little pinkie” than Democratic nominee Barack Obama.
In an interview filmed the afternoon of Sept. 3 and posted on the Web site LinkTV.org, Schwartz was candid about how he envisioned change under a McCain presidency.
“Less taxes and more war,” he said, smiling. He said the U.S. should “bomb the hell” out of Iran because the country threatens Israel.
Asked by the interviewer how America would pay for a military confrontation with Iran, he said the U.S. should take the country’s resources.
“We should plant a flag. Take the oil, take the money,” he said. “We deserve reimbursement.”
A few hours after the interview, an unknown woman helped herself to Schwartz’s resources.
It is so refreshing to see one of these Grand Theft Auto Conservatives get a taste of his own ideology.
Shashkavili let me rock you let me rock you Shashkavili that’s all I wanna do Shashkavili…
Can someone please explain to me how John McCain has a reputation as some kind of foreign policy expert? He needs Joe Lieberman to (repeatedly) remind him that al Qaeda aren’t Shi’ites, he cribs his South Ossetia policy from Wikipedia, and now he doesn’t know how to pronounce the name of Georgia’s president?
And remember, foreign policy is what he’s supposed to be good at.
Hey, remember when we learned that before the Iraqupation, Dubya suggested painting a U2 spyplane with UN colors and trying to bait Saddam into shooting at it, thus providing a clear-cut case for war? (Never mind the fact that the UN would be well aware that it wasn’t their plane that got shot out – remember who we’re talking about here.)
Well, now Seymour Hersh says that Cheney’s staff talked about going him one better to start his much-coveted war with Iran. Not satisfied to rely on Iran to be foolish enough to fire the first shot, this plan required no Iranian participation whatsoever!
There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives.
Look, is it high school? Yeah. Are we playing high school with you know 5,000 nuclear warheads in our arsenal? Yeah we are. We’re playing, you know, who’s the first guy to run off the highway with us and Iran.
Actually, I’m pretty sure that the game of Chicken requires two willing participants.
The Iranians are still exporting the most lethal explosive devices across the Iraqi border and into Iraq and killing brave, young Americans and Iran is still supporting terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. So, if they want to communicate with us and we want to communicate with them, fine. We all have blackberries. It’s fine.
Awesome. John McCain is totally “with it”, as the kids say these days.
Also worth noting from the video: A banana is not a poll.
Over three years ago, I was urging Democrats to lay some groundwork to ensure that Republicans couldn’t turn a terrorist attack or other disaster (this was several months before Katrina) into an undeserved political windfall:
Another thing that the Democrats must keep in mind is the very high probability that Republican policies will lead to a financial or terrorist-inflicted disaster. An electoral scandal and constitutional crisis is also a possibility: I believe there are limits to just how large a margin election “gaming” and fraud can cover up without leaving behind a gun too smoky for the media to ignore. What happens if that threshold is exceeded, at least to the point where the election outcome is severely in doubt? What mechanisms do we have for resolving such a situation?
In theory, Democrats should be able to capitalize on any of these negative outcomes, as they can all be laid clearly at the doorstep of the Republicans. In reality, they would be pilloried by the Republicans and the media for opportunistically “politicizing” a national tragedy.
Therefore, what I’m advocating is that the Democrats get out in front and periodically raise a big stink (and for the love of God, don’t capitulate!) about the various ways that the 100% Republican-controlled government has made us vulnerable…
[M]y point is that the Democrats need to be vocal about these issues in advance, so that everyone knows where they stand before the unthinkable occurs. It’s very easy to denounce terrorist attacks or stock market crashes after they happen, and both sides of the aisle will be doing exactly that. But the Democrats will be on the record as having warned of disaster, while the Republicans will be on record as steamrolling and shouting them down. This will give the Democrats standing and credibility to point the finger of blame after the fact.
Am I rooting for catastrophe? Of course not. I think it is highly probable, if not inevitable, but I desperately hope to be proven wrong.
What I am rooting for is that the Democrats will not let the Republicans get away with saying, “Well, these things happen, no-one could have seen it coming, we must all pull together now and do whatever we say,” as they did after 9/11. They must be held accountable for their willful refusal to protect America from harm.
Well, here we are three years later, and (as I predicted in that same post), the Democrats haven’t really gotten that message across, much to RJ Eskow’s dismay (and mine):
I’ve been privately warning Democrats for some time that Obama and the party need emergency preparedness plans. Major events between now and November could change the course of the election – especially a U.S. strike on Iran, or a terror attack against Americans at home or abroad.
We’re not seeing any signs of such plans. Not that we should -except that one outcome would be to explain now why Americans are much less safe as the result of GOP policies.
If it seems crass to weigh political considerations in the face of war or tragedy, remember that the future safety of civilians here and elsewhere will be greatly affected by this election. And they – the Republicans – are certainly thinking politically. When McCain’s chief political advisor, lobbyist Charlie Black, said yesterday that a terror attack “would be a big advantage for him, his biggest mistake was excessive honesty. That’s one of the few imaginable scenarios that could lead to a McCain victory in November.
So what should Obama and the Democrats be doing about these two possibilities? Some of their planning should be invisible – for the speeches that Obama might gave, the surrogates (military and otherwise) that would appear on Democrats’ behalf. But we should be seeing some groundwork being laid now, and we’re not. So, what should be happening?
[Main bullet points only – check out Eskow’s post for the meat behind them]
Guanatanamo and Abu Ghraib should be described as Bush-created “terrorist factories.”
Democrats should explain that torture is un-American, that it breeds terrorists — and that it doesn’t help catch bad guys.
If we surrender our freedoms, the terrorists win.
…Democrats owe it to themselves – and more importantly, to the nation – to start telling the real story immediately. There should be no equivocation and no calculation.
Their motto should be: Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and do what’s right in the meantime.
I still believe that something terrible is going to happen, that the Republicans’ criminal mismanagement of, well, everything, has made it inevitable. Indeed, some pretty terrible things have already happened, like Katrina and the subprime meltdown. But when the next terrible thing happens, if Democrats haven’t already shown (or, better yet, tried to fix) how the Republicans have left us vulnerable, they will be unable to fight off the Republicans’ this-is-why-you-need-a-strong-daddy narrative.
Wes Clark shreds McCain’s credibility on national security.
I gotta say, the more I think about it, the more I like Wes Clark for Obama’s running mate, or at least a high-profile surrogate for national security. McCain is using his service and his uniform to enhance his credibility on Iraq, Iran, and foreign policy/national security in general, but the reality is that he doesn’t have any better understanding of it than Dubya. As Clark says, McCain’s approach is simply “force, force, and more force” – and we’ve seen how well that’s worked in Iraq.
Putting Clark on the ticket, or at least on the Obama campaign, reminds me of the great scene in Annie Hall, where Woody Allen brings Marshall McLuhan out from behind a sign to shut up a pontificating know-it-all. After all these years of hearing Republicans tell us that Democrats (and especially Obama, who McCain is portraying as young and green and maybe even some kind of draft dodger, even though he was 12 when Vietnam ended) don’t understand military matters, I would love to see Obama pull Wes Clark out to say, “Excuse me – I’m the military, and you have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Jim Dobbins – A man who has just a bit of history of dealing with some pretty bad guys and doing it effectively – then chimed in arguing that the whole idea that blatant military threats had to be a part of effective negotiations was simply ahistorical. He argued that we never used military threats when negotiating with the Russians or Chinese during the Cold War. We just made clear what our redlines were and that worked pretty well, but we never in negotiations actually threatened them. He then said that in his forty year career he had negotiated with Soviet Apparatchiks, Afghan warlords, Somali warlords, Serbs and Bosnians. He found that when explicit military threats were part of the negotiations the negotiations would fail. So we should just stick the military threat back in the drawer. The Iranians know it’s there. We don’t need to waive it in their face.
Gee, who ever would have thought that threatening people would make them less receptive. Crazy, innit.
We expect Al Qaeda to come out some time today with a new manifesto where they ought to be using weapons of mass destruction against the United States. That means that they’re realizing they can’t win in Iraq. I think they’re going to change their way of doing business. And I think we have to be on the alert. These people are all over the world. Al Qaeda’s not just in Iraq. They’re in Iran. They’re in the Philippines. Sen Inouye and I went down to [indistinguishable]. They’re over in Indonesia. They’re all over.
This sounds strange at first, until you realize that al Qaeda is actually a series of tubes.
This just gets better and better. Dubya tells the Israeli Knesset that anyone who would negotiate with terrorists and rogue states (*coughcoughObamacoughcoughcough*) is an appeaser like Neville Chamberlain (which is a very creative definition of appeasement, by the way), then a few days later we hear that he was actually insulting his hosts.
Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, President Bush’s nominee to lead U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, supports continued U.S. engagement with international and regional partners to find the right mix of diplomatic, economic and military leverage to address the challenges posed by Iran.
In written answers to questions posed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he will testify today, Petraeus said the possibility of military action against Iran should be retained as a “last resort.” But he said the United States “should make every effort to engage by use of the whole of government, developing further leverage rather than simply targeting discrete threats.”
On the cover of a new book titled “The China Diary of George H. W. Bush: The Making of a Global President,” edited by Jeffrey A. Engel, our 41st president is quoted as saying, “I was a big believer then, and still am, that personal diplomacy can be very useful and productive.” That’s not a quote from the diary, which covers Bush’s time as the head of the United States Liaison Office in Beijing from 1974 to 1975. It’s from a preface Bush penned specifically for this book.
“I took some hits for not being tougher on the Chinese,” he writes, “but my long history with Deng and the other leaders made it possible for us to work through the crises without derailing Sino-American relations, which would have been a disaster. I was a big believer then, and still am, that personal diplomacy can be very useful and productive.” At no point in the preface does Bush object to establishing relations with a tyrannical regime.
The Jerusalem Post reports that a senior Israeli official said that President Bush and Vice President Cheney are of the belief that military action against Iran is necessary and that such an attack could be coming soon:
US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran in the upcoming months, before the end of his term, Army Radio quoted a senior official in Jerusalem as saying Tuesday.
The official claimed that a senior member of the president’s entourage, which concluded a trip to Israel last week, said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for.
However, the official continued, “the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice” was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic, for the time being.
I’m not sure how credible (if at all) the Jerusalem Post is, and this is essentially a reporter saying that an unnamed Israeli official told him that an unnamed American official told him that Bush & Cheney want war, so take it all with a great big shaker of salt.
But it would be in character for Dick and Dubya – no doubt they miss that delicious new war smell, and they know that this might be their last chance to bomb Iran unless McCain is elected. Which, incidentally, they might also be trying to ensure with an attack on Iran, since everyone knows that Republicans are totally credible and serious when it comes to matters of national defense.
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK:…John McCain has been assembling his team, and in his foreign policy team are some very interesting figures. First and foremost, James Woolsey, former head of the CIA. And then a man named Randy Schoenberg, who with Woolsey helped constitute something called the Committee on the Present Danger, co-chaired by Senators Kyl and Lieberman, who pushed the resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorist. And the Committee on the Present Danger is quite dedicated to regime change in Iran and Syria, and the fundamental thesis of the Project for a New American Century document, which is the projection of American military might to reshape the world.
[FORMER REPUBLICAN AND MORE-OR-LESS SANE PERSON] ERIC MARGOLIS, ANALYST, THE REAL NEWS NETWORK: Well, I’ve met Woolsey on a number of occasions, been on TV programs with him in Washington, and I would be very nervous to have this man anywhere in a high-level government position. The reason is that he’s one of the point men for the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. They’re almost so far right wing you can hear goose-stepping. They want a very militaristic foreign policy. They want to use American power to destroy all of Israel’s perceived enemies.
JAY: Eric, in that respect, let me show you a piece of video. This is a clip of James Woolsey speaking during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and this is Woolsey calling for what he thinks should be the American approach at that moment towards Syria.
[COMPLETELY BATSHIT INSANE REPUBLICAN] JIM WOOLSEY, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: …I think Iran is the puppet master, and Syria and Hezbollah and Hamas to varying degrees are the puppets. This is really about Iran versus the US, and Israel is in the way.
INTERVIEWER: Woolsey, are you saying that we should be hitting Syria, we should be hitting the airport, we should be hitting Bashar Assad’s office?
WOOLSEY: Yes. The last thing we ought to do now, I think—.
INTERVIEWER: Well, you mean we the United States, not Israel.
WOOLSEY: Yes. Yes. I think the last thing we ought to do now is to start talking about ceasefires. This is a very serious challenge from Iran, and we need to weaken them badly, and undermining the Syrian government with air strikes would help weaken them badly.
INTERVIEWER: If undermining Syria, if taking Syria down a peg or two by actually hitting them with air strikes would be effective, why not hit something in Iran?
WOOLSEY: Well, you know, one has to take things to some degree by steps.
Alrighty then. Bomb Syria first, then work your way up to Iran. Very sensible, very Serious. I’m sure there couldn’t possibly be any kind of unintended consequences whatsoever. Do you really want this bloodthirsty nutjob whispering in the ear of the President Of The United States? Do you really want a president who makes Dubya look reasonable and moderate?
A second American aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf on Tuesday as the Pentagon ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran. CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the planning is being driven by what one officer called the “increasingly hostile role” Iran is playing in Iraq – smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops.
“What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and -women inside Iraq,” said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
U.S. officials are also concerned by Iranian harassment of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf as well as Iran’s still growing nuclear program. New pictures of Iran’s uranium enrichment plant show the country’s defense minister in the background, as if deliberately mocking a recent finding by U.S. intelligence that Iran had ceased work on a nuclear weapon.
No attacks are imminent and the last thing the Pentagon wants is another war, but Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has warned Iran not to assume the U.S. military can’t strike.
“I have reserve capability, in particular our Navy and our Air Force so it would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability,” Mullen said.
Targets would include everything from the plants where weapons are made to the headquarters of the organization known as the Quds Force which directs operations in Iraq. Later this week Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to confront the Iranians with evidence of their meddling and demand a halt.
If that doesn’t produce results, the State Department has begun drafting an ultimatum that would tell the Iranians to knock it off – or else.
Bush & Cheney just can’t bear the idea of leaving office without starting a disastrous war with Iran.
Oh, and way to go, CBS, for uncritically repeating the administration’s talking points on Iran smuggling weapons into Iraq, harassing American ships, and developing nuclear weapons. Bravo.
Hannity: “What did you make of Senator Barack Obama’s comments that he would talk to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier who’s repeatedly threatened to blow up and remove Israel from the state — from the map, the world map, and obviously is pursuing some nuclear capability?”
Cheney: “Well, he is, and I think the position we’ve taken with respect to that is that we would be prepared to talk when they stopped enriching uranium. Of course, they’ve never met that condition, so we haven’t had talks at that level.
Just over two hours later, [Cheney was on with] Hugh Hewitt.
Hewitt: “Do you — Mr. Vice President, do you have a personal sense of whether or not the Iranian leadership is actually motivated by this end-times, bring-back-the-12th-Imam sort of theology that we’ve read so much about?”
Cheney: “…The one guy who talks about it repeatedly is Ahmadinejad. And — in other words, a report even at one point that when he went to Iraq on a visit, that at least on one occasion, he insisted on there being a vacant chair at the table for the 12th Imam…. I mean, if I look at what his beliefs supposedly are, the allegation that the — a return of the 12th Imam is something to be much desired, and that the best contribution that a man can make is to die a martyr facilitating that return, and all that goes with it — I always think of Bernard Lewis, who said that mutual assured destruction during the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviets meant peace and stability and deterrence, but mutual assured destruction in the hands of Ahmadinejad may just be an incentive. It’s a worrisome proposition.”
The 12th Imam
Cheney’s talk of the 12th Imam marks his revival of an old neoconchestnut.
The 12th Imam, or the mahdi, is considered by devout Shiite Muslims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed who disappeared in the ninth century and will reappear before judgment day to end tyranny and promote justice.
The man Cheney cites as an authority on Iranian apocalyptic thinking, controversial mideast scholar Bernard Lewis, hinted in an Aug. 8, 2006, Wall Street Journal op-ed that Ahmadinejad might be planning a nuclear attack on Israel just two weeks later, on the date in the Islamic calendar when the Prophet Muhammad made his mystical journey to Jerusalem.
Needless to say, the day went by without incident.
Noah Feldman wrote in the New York Times Magazine on Oct. 29, 2006, that “the relative absence of a contemporary Shiite trend to messianic brinkmanship suggests that Ahmadinejad’s recent emphasis on the mahdi may be interpreted more in terms of an attempt to summon [Ayotollah] Khomeini’s legacy and Iran’s revolutionary moment than as a desperate willingness to bring the nation to the edge of war. . . .
“Ahmadinejad surely understands the consequences of using a nuclear bomb, and Shiite Islam, even in its messianic incarnation, still falls short of inviting nuclear retaliation and engendering collective suicide.”
As for Wiping Israel Off the Map
Back in March, William Branigin of The Washington Post shed some light on the administration’s continued insistence that the Iranian government had expressed its desire to wipe Israel off the map.
Branigin wrote: “In an October 2005 speech to a conference on a ‘World without Zionism,’ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted by a state-run Iranian news agency as agreeing with a statement by Iran’s late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that ‘Israel must be wiped off the map.’ Iran’s foreign minister later said the comment had been incorrectly translated from Farsi and that Ahmadinejad was ‘talking about the [Israeli] regime,’ which Iran does not recognize and wants to see collapse.
“According to Farsi-speaking commentators including Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan, Ahmadinejad’s exact quote was, ‘The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.’ Cole has written that Ahmadinejad was not calling for the ‘Nazi-style extermination of a people,’ but was expressing the wish that the Israeli government would disappear just as the shah of Iran’s regime had collapsed in 1979.“
Only one teensy little detail that Froomkin leaves out, though. Ahmadinejad isn’t the guy with the button. The ayatollahs are the ones with all the power in Iran – if the Bushies want to make someone their scary Iranian boogeyman, they should be trying to convince us that the leaders of Iran’s theocracy are bloodthirsty and insane. The fact that they have not done so makes me suspect that they can’t.
[H]ad Clinton or Obama done something like this, this would have been played on a loop, over and over.
– CNN Political Director Chuck Todd, talking about John McCain’s recent multiple references to Iran supporting al Qaeda
Chuck Todd is exactly right, but it’s not all due to Mad John’s Big Media BBQ, or their longstanding love for his crazy-in-straight-talk’s-clothing. The media are thoroughly invested in a narrative that says that Republicans in general, and John McCain in particular, are Strong On Foreign Policy, while Democrats are Weak.
The end result is that any time McCain or another Republican screws up on foreign policy, it’s dismissed as an aberration, a one-time fluke occurrence. But if a Democrat makes a similar error, the media seize upon it as proof that the domestic-minded mommy Democrats just don’t understand foreign policy, and that’s why only the pragmatic, worldly Republicans can keep us safe from the bad scary people.
Of course, foreign policy is not the only example, not by a long shot. Consider the persistence of such laughable narratives as “Republicans are the party of moral values”; “Republicans are the party of personal responsibility”; “George W. Bush is a resolute man of conviction and Al Gore/John Kerry is a flip-flopping phony,” none of which have a basis in any reality other than the Republicans’ self-declared one. The media have perpetuated them in the exact same way, by downplaying stories that conflict with the narrative, and emphasizing the ones that reinforce it.
As Peter Daou said, way back in his pre-Hillary days:
These narratives are woven so deeply into the fabric of news coverage that they have become second nature and have permeated the public psyche and are regurgitated in polls. (The polls are then used to strengthen the narratives.) They are delivered as affirmative statements, interrogatives, hypotheticals; they are discussed as fact and accepted as conventional wisdom; they are twisted, turned, shaped, reshaped, and fed to the American public in millions of little soundbites, captions, articles, editorials, news stories, and opinion pieces. They are inserted into the national dialogue as contagious memes that imprint the idea of Bush=strong/Dems=weak. And they are false.
What’s so dumbfounding to progressive netroots activists, who clearly see the role of the traditional media in perpetuating these storylines – and are taking concrete action (here, here, and here) to remedy the problem – is that Democratic politicians, strategists, and surrogates have internalized these narratives and play into them, publicly wringing their hands over how to fix their “muddled” message, how to deal with Bush’s “strength” on national security, how to talk about “values.” It’s become a self-fulfilling cycle, with Democrats reinforcing anti-Dem myths because they can’t imagine any other explanation for the apparent lack of resonance of their message. Out of desperation, they resort to hackneyed, focus-grouped slogans in a vain attempt to break through the filter.
It’s simple: if your core values and beliefs and positions, no matter how reasonable, how mainstream, how correct, how ethical, are filtered to the public through the lens of a media that has inoculated the public against your message, and if the media is the public’s primary source of information, then NOTHING you say is going to break through and change that dynamic. Which explains, in large measure, the Dems’ sorry electoral failures.
Until Democrats and progressives can either develop their own media, or de-Foxify the existing media, they will always be held to a much higher standard than Republicans, and every election will be an uphill battle against the Republicans and the media.
Unfortunately, this level-headed thinking and willingness to stand up to President Bush may cost him his job. According to a new article by Thomas P.M. Barnett in the April issue of Esquire magazine (on newsstands March 12), Fallon may be prematurely “relieved of his command” as soon as this summer:
[W]ell-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up next spring, maybe as early as this summer, in favor of a commander the White House considers to be more pliable. If that were to happen, it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don’t want a commander standing in their way.
In today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked spokeswoman Dana Perino about the Esquire piece. Perino refused to say whether Fallon’s position is secure until the end of his tenure, instead attacking “rumor mills that don’t turn out to be true.”
Brilliant strategic thinker? Adamantly opposed to war with Iran? This man is completely unqualified to serve in the Bush administration. How did he even get such an important position in the first place? Was it a miscalculation? Window dressing? Was he the only person who would take it? Was he Robert Gates’s guy? And if he was Gates’s guy, would Gates be following him out the door? Gates always seemed a little too sane for the Bush administration too…
The overall impression that I get from this Newsweek story is that John McCain, the Straight-Talking Maverick, is trying desperately to pander to the right-wing, but most of them are way too crazy to let him. Never mind that he wants to stay in Iraq forever and build an addition in Iran, or that he’s an archconservative on about 95% of everything: He’s moderate on immigration, pretends to be moderate on global warming, and he once said bad things about the religious right, but that’s about it.
John McCain is much, much farther from the political center than Hillary or Obama, and would probably disappoint conservatives far less than a President Hillary or Obama would disappoint progressives, but that’s just not enough, apparently. Sometimes I wonder whether the McCain hatred is all for show, a colossal ratfuck to make McCain appear more moderate, but I have been assured that the hatred is real, in which case the right wing really is as crazy as I thought.
Also, I’m not sure whether this was calculated or a sign of appallingly weak discipline, but it looks like a rather alarming number of anonymous McCain campaign staffers talked to the Newsweek reporters about stuff they weren’t supposed to be talking about.
“What does he say? The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we’re gonna have a lot more wars,” Buchanan said of McCain. Scarborough remarked that McCain’s “inviting” presidential platform for the fall consists of “less jobs and more wars” :
BUCHANAN: Here’s a guy, basically, what does he say? The jobs are never coming back, the illegals are never going home, but we’re gonna have a lot more wars.
SCARBOROUGH: We’re gonna start a lot of wars! He has promised, for the record Keith, John McCain’s platform – and it certainly looks inviting for the fall – he has promised less jobs and more wars. Now that’s something we can all rally behind.
While campaigning in Michigan earlier this month, McCain said some Michigan industries cannot be resurrected. “I’ve got to give you some straight talk: Some of the jobs that have left the state of Michigan are not coming back,” he said.
And just this weekend, McCain told a crowd of supporters, “There’s going to be other wars. … I’m sorry to tell you, there’s going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars.”
Hooray for war and unemployment! Of course, if you have enough war, you don’t have to worry about unemployment so much. Maybe that’s McCain’s genius economic plan: if a huge chunk of the population is in the military, that means more civilian jobs left over for everyone else! Not to mention all the new jobs opening up at the munitions plant and Lockheed and Halliburton and Blackwater! Everybody wins!
From the question-and-answer session after Bush’s speech:
Q: “My question is, I have three children in the school system here, and I’m very concerned about their well-being, living in this country — and you’ve done a wonderful job of protecting our nation. But I’m concerned about the nations like Iraq, who now have nuclear weapons –”
I’m not the world’s biggest Joe Biden fan by a long shot, but he certainly does have his moments. This is one of them:
“Are you telling me a president who is briefed every single morning, who is fixated on Iran, is not told back in August that the tentative conclusion of 16 intelligence agencies in the United States government said they had abandoned their effort for a nuclear weapon in ’03?” Biden said in a conference call with reporters.
“That’s not believable,” Biden added. “I refuse to believe that. If that’s true, he has the most incompetent staff in … modern American history and he’s one of the most incompetent presidents in modern American history.
Bush told reporters earlier Tuesday that he was made aware only last week of a National Intelligence Estimate that described the stop to the Iranian nuclear program.
“I love presidents who parse words,” Biden said in response. “The NIE didn’t get written until a week ago.”
The Delaware Democrat, who argued that the administration is again misleading the country, charged that Bush must have known about the suspicion of the intelligence services when he made his famous remarks that tied the possibility of World War III to Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons.
More like this, please.
(Actually, Dubya may be both the most incompetent and the most dishonest president in American history, which is a truly impressive achievement.)
But wait, there’s more: Biden also promised to call for impeachment if Dubya tried to invade Iran without congressional approval.
Of course, Biden can’t control what goes on Nancy Pelosi’s table (which she prefers to keep as spiffy clean as possible, apparently), and there’s no guarantee that Dubya wouldn’t be able to get congressional approval (remember, even if Iran isn’t working on nukes, they’re still single-handedly sustaining the insurgency in Iraq and bunging up Bush’s Grand Vision Of Middle-Eastern Democracy)… but it’s still refreshing to see a prominent Democrat suggest that even the president is not entirely above the law.
It’s been a rough couple of days for the Huckster. First he shows himself to be utterly unserious on the most important foreign policy matters, and now the Wayne Dumond scandal has just gotten a whole lot worse:
As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of a convicted rapist despite being warned by numerous women that the convict had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. The convict went on to rape and murder at least one other woman.
Confidential Arkansas state government records, including letters from these women, obtained by the Huffington Post and revealed publicly for the first time, directly contradict the version of events now being put forward by Huckabee.
While on the campaign trail, Huckabee has claimed that he supported the 1999 release of Wayne Dumond because, at the time, he had no good reason to believe that the man represented a further threat to the public. Thanks to Huckabee’s intervention, conducted in concert with a right-wing tabloid campaign on Dumond’s behalf, Dumond was let out of prison 25 years before his sentence would have ended.
“There’s nothing any of us could ever do,” Huckabee said Sunday on CNN when asked to reflect on the horrific outcome caused by the prisoner’s release. “None of us could’ve predicted what [Dumond] could’ve done when he got out.”
But the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again – and perhaps murder – if released.
In a letter that has never before been made public, one of Dumond’s victims warned: “I feel that if he is released it is only a matter of time before he commits another crime and fear that he will not leave a witness to testify against him the next time.” Before Dumond was granted parole at Huckabee’s urging, records show that Huckabee’s office received a copy of this letter from Arkansas’ parole board.
The woman later wrote directly to Huckabee about having been raped by Dumond. In a letter obtained by the Huffington Post, she said that Dumond had raped her while holding a butcher knife to her throat, and while her then-3-year-old daughter lay in bed next to her. Also included in the files sent to Huckabee’s office was a police report in which Dumond confessed to the rape. Dumond was not charged in that particular case because he later refused to sign the confession and because the woman was afraid to press charges.
[See the full letters sent to Huckabee’s office here.]
Huckabee kept these and other documents secret because they were politically damaging, according to a former aide who worked for him in Arkansas. The aide has made the records available to the Huffington Post, deeply troubled by Huckabee’s repeated claims that he had no reason to believe Dumond would commit other violent crimes upon his release from prison. The aide also believes that Huckabee, for political reasons, has deliberately attempted to cover up his knowledge of Dumond’s other sexual assaults.
In 1996, as a newly elected governor who had received strong support from the Christian right, Huckabee was under intense pressure from conservative activists to pardon Dumond or commute his sentence. The activists claimed that Dumond’s initial imprisonment and various other travails were due to the fact that Ashley Stevens, the high school cheerleader he had raped, was a distant cousin of Bill Clinton, and the daughter of a major Clinton campaign contributor.
The case for Dumond’s innocence was championed in Arkansas by Jay Cole, a Baptist minister and radio host who was a close friend of the Huckabee family. It also became a cause for New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, who repeatedly argued for Dumond’s release, calling his conviction “a travesty of justice.” On Sept. 21, 1999, Dunleavy wrote a column headlined “Clinton’s Biggest Crime – Left Innocent Man In Jail For 14 Years”:
“Dumond, now 52, was given conditional parole yesterday in Arkansas after having being sentenced to 50 years in jail for the rape of Clinton’s cousin,” Dunleavy wrote. “That rape never happened.”
A subsequent Dunleavy column quoted Huckabee saying: “There is grave doubt to the circumstances of this reported crime.”
After Dumond’s release from prison in September 1999, he moved to Smithville, Missouri, where he raped and suffocated to death a 39-year-old woman named Carol Sue Shields. Dumond was subsequently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for that rape and murder.
But Dumond’s arrest for those crimes in June 2001 came too late for 23-year-old Sara Andrasek of Platte County, Missouri. Dumond allegedly raped and murdered her just one day before his arrest for raping and murdering Shields. Prior to the attack, Andrasek and her husband had learned that she was pregnant with their first child.
Also, John Aravosis is… displeased with Huckabee’s claim that he “felt sorry” for Dumond, which really is kind of an extraordinary thing to say about a brutal serial rapist and soon-to-be murderer. Especially when he knew that the rape Dumond was in prison for was far from an isolated incident.
In a sane and rational country, these two days would be enough to decisively end Huckabee’s presidential campaign. In this country, they might be nothing more than a minor blip.
Best case would be if Republican primary voters cheerfully overlook Huckabee’s ineptitude and moral phoniness… but no-one else does.
3 commentsDecember 5th, 2007 at 11:57amPosted by Eli