Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Race To The Wire

Does race matter? That really is a silly question? If you're asking the question, then you already know the answer. All three campaigns and the press have been dancing around this question, even after Obama's speech in Philly last month, because it is still a hot button topic in America. But even the most optimistic of observers would have to agree that not only does race matter, but it is perhaps the single issue that is going to decide this election.

I had a conversation recently with a friend of mine and we were discussing the Democratic primary and I said that I thought Obama would have the hard convincing some of Hillary's supporters to vote for him, especially older white women. Her exact remark was, "I really resent that". I wasn't making that statement based on anything other than what the numbers have shown. Hillary's support is the greatest among older white women and therefore they would be the hardest to convert into Obama voters. However it was interpreted as a racial statement and therefore the reaction was based on that.

Race (pardon the pun) colors everything in political life. Up until now, Blacks and Women had no choice (for the most part) but to vote for a white male when it came to presidential preferences. Now that there is some variety among the candidates, people have begun to line up behind the person who looks most like them. Blacks now vote at a nearly 9-1 clip for Obama, while older white women vote for Hillary by a 7-3 margin. The bottom line here is that voters are most likely to vote for someone who looks like them. Older Black women are voting overwhelmingly for Obama, so clearly they are not influenced by being in the same age bracket as Hillary Clinton. There has to be something else in the equation and that something is clearly race.

I'm not saying that people who vote for Obama and Clinton are racists, but they certainly take race into account and it is a lot bigger part of the equation than people are willing to admit to. The fact that only 16% of polled voters in Pennsylvania were willing to admit that race played a factor in their decision proves the general delusion that most of America is living under (or proves that most Americans lie to pollsters). Chris Rock once said that the most racist people in America are old Black men because of what they've had to live through. Now what do you think older Black people are considering when they go the voting booth and see the first viable Black candidate for the nation's highest position on the ballot? Are they considering his experience? Sure. Are they considering his policies? Of course. Are they comparing him to the competition? Without a doubt. Are they considering his race? ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVOCALLY, YES, YES, YES. The same can be said of older white women who enter the voting booth only they have the added bonus of gender as well (lest you think that only Blacks would vote on such a issue).

The issue, as I've said before, is not whether race plays a major part in the decision making of most voters, it's whether either candidate will be able to overcome this obstacle in the fall. Obama has the bigger problem here and I'll tell you why. Black voters (who are the most reliable voting block in the country) are not only used to voting Democrat, they realize that there is no real option for them. Republicans turned their backs on the issues of the Black community a long time ago. Voting Republican just wouldn't' make any sense to them. Some may stay home, but the truth is that the vast majority of them would return to the fold and vote Democratic even if they feel ambivalent about the party's candidate. However, Hillary's most fervent supporters would have an option. I've written before that I feel this group will split into three equal parts, those who vote Democratic, those that vote Republican and those that stay home. As long as the press continues to give John McCain a free ride, he will certainly appear more attractive to some of Hillary's core supporters. He's in their age range, he's a moderate (an absolute lie, but one the press seems unwilling to challenge), he tells it like it is and he sticks to his guns (more lies) and let's not forget, most importantly, he's White which provides a natural level of comfort and is his biggest selling point to some Democrats.

I'm using the most polarized groups of supporters in order to illustrate the point, but this will play itself, to lesser degrees among almost all Democratic voters. The Bradley effect (vote totals being lower for Black candidates than what the polls suggest) is real. There are people who will simply be unable to pull the lever to vote for a Black President regardless of what they say in public or to pollsters. The famed melting pot that comprises the population of the country does not always breed a greater understanding of other cultures. It can and does, in some, breed animosity and fear. It is that fear, which is expressed in various ways, which leads to voting patterns along racial, religious and ethnic grounds. At the end of the day, regardless of what you label it, it all adds up to the same thing. And to those who think that I'm a racist for pointing this out, I would wholeheartedly disagree and ask you to really try and take an honest look at the country we live in. We are supposed to believe that all men are created equal, but do we? Given our checkered past, I believe the answer to be fairly self evident.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was questioned on 60 Minutes about the decision of the court that awarded George W. Bush the 2000 election. When asked about the fact that there are those who believe that the decision was politically motivated, the distinguished legal scholar had this to say:

"I say nonsense. Get over it. It's so old by now."

Get over it? Get over it? I'm sure those words bring great comfort to the parents and families of the over 4,000 Americans who have died in Iraq. I'm sure the families of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead will feel much better if we just tell them to get over it. I'm sure that the American people are thrilled with the fact that this Supreme Court Justice thinks so little of the most momentous decision made by the courts since Roe V. Wade. According him it's such old news that we should just forget about it. I'm sure most of us would like to forget about it, but unfortunately the repercussions of that decision will be felt by the entire world for a long time to come. The decision, which was undoubtedly politically motivated (Scalia had two sons who worked for law firms that represented Bush, Clarence Thomas' wife worked on the Bush transition team and Sandra Day O'Conner had already stated her goal to retire under a Republican administration), will one day be looked upon in the same light as the Dread Scott decision (it it isn't already).

Justice (and I use that word in only it's most ironic meaning) Scalia, how can you sir, see what your decision has wrought and express nothing but apathy and disdain for those who have been affected by it? I guess Dick Cheney isn't the only practitioner of the dark arts on Capitol Hill. Hopefully one day you'll get to see your master up close.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


In the spirit of the Third Reich and their infamous Wannsee Conference (the Nazi conference where the "final solution" was agreed upon, which the rest of the world came to know as the Holocaust), the Bush administration held their own little conference (where they decided to engage in "enhanced interrogation" techniques, which the rest of the world calls torture). Just to illustrate the effectiveness of the techniques they agreed upon, I wanted to make a list the things that I would admit to being responsible for just under the threat of torture:

      1. I killed JFK (I know I wasn't born yet, but I'm pretty sure I influenced the guy who did the actual shooting). Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley as well.
      2. I killed MLK. Malcolm X too.
      3. I killed RFK.
      4. Shot the Pope, Killed Ghandi.
      5. I was the mastermind of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
      6. Keeping Monica's blue dress was my idea.
      7. New Coke.
      8. S&L scandal.
      9. I shot Archduke Ferndinand (thereby igniting WWI).
      10. I introduced Cocaine to America and am currently funding all the underground meth labs in the US.
      11. Breaking into DNC headquarters at the Waterage hotel, my idea.
      12. Enron, all me.
      13. Iran-Contra.
      14. I outed Valerie Plame.
      15. I was the behind the failed attempt to get the US to convert to the Metric system.
      16. The USFL.
      17. Calculus (I'm particularly sorry about that one).
      18. The vast right wing conspiracy.
      19. George W. Bush (Don't tell his Dad, I promised Barbara that I keep this one secret).

The fact that the administration decided to start a pre emptive war against a sovereign nation that had not taken a single aggressive step toward us was not bad enough. They then decided to turn themselves into international criminals by ignoring the UN treaty which the United States signed, which strictly forbids torture of prisoners. In fact the treaty makes it clear that anyone who sanctions torture or commits torture is guilty of a criminal act. Trying to change the definition of what torture is, does not change the reality of what you are doing. To have our government sanction the inhumane and barbaric treatment of human beings is a crime. The words of the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft will echo through time, "History will not judge this kindly". No shit Sherlock.

Say It Loud!

I think it's time to say what the mainstream press seems unwilling to say. The Democratic primary is over. There are still 9 more contests to go, but it is a mathematical certainty that Barack Obama will end up with a significant lead in the delegate count and will need less than 30% of the remaining super delegates to put him over the top. Hillary Clinton has no chance to overtake Obama. Watching the press try and drag this out to maintain their ratings would be amusing if it weren't so blatant a misstatement of the truth. Now I have no problem with Clinton continuing her campaign through June 3rd, but at that point even she would have to face the reality that she has lost.

I'm sure that her campaign already realizes that the race is over, but they are now in the "let's damage Obama as much as possible so that he can't possibly win against McCain and we get another chance in four years". The press is acting as if her win in Pennsylvania has somehow changed the dynamic of the race. It hasn't. The press is once again committing the mortal sin of analyzing one primary result in a vacuum. They celebrate her victory as if the entire race was played out on Tuesday. They act as if Obama is the one who is behind and doesn't have a chance to win. The group delusion will continue as long as the press can drag it out.

They accuse Obama of not being a tough candidate because he refuses to engage in the type of tactics that Clinton has. But for some reason they fail to realize the fine line that he is walking. If for instance he were to mock all of her supporters as she has his, the press would say that he was picking on her. If he were to engage in the type of politics that she has, they would say that he no longer has the moral higher ground that he has become just another politician.

None of this matters however because there is no question about who is going to end the primary season with the lead in delegates and votes. It's not important which states were won, unless you believe the bizarre and disproven theory that a win in the primary somehow translates to the general election. The super delegates will no doubt affirm the will of the voters. There has been a lot of talk from the Clinton campaign and from the press about how the super delegates will vote, but they are simply not going to pick the second place finisher as the Democratic Presidential candidate.

I understand that Clinton has to continue with the thought that she can somehow win, but there is no reason why the press has to play along. If, for instance, the situations were reversed, there is no way that he would be treated with the same seriousness that Clinton is. A win by a trailing Obama in say North Carolina would be explained away because of the demographics of the state. However since Clinton is in the trailing position, a 9 point win by her in Pennsylvania, a state in which she held a 20+ point lead a few weeks ago and has a demographic which is perfectly suited to her message, is hailed as a master stroke of political genius and a sign that Obama is somehow in real trouble.

I have no hope that I will be looked upon as the voice of reason here, but I just felt like it was time that someone stated the obvious. I am not trying to belittle Senator Clinton or her many supporters, but even they must realize that there is no way for her to win outside of pulling off something that would cause a full scale riot within the Democratic party. I have tried to stay pretty neutral in my coverage of the race, but I think we've passed the point of no return. Whether anyone likes it or not Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. So for better or for worse, the new creed of the Democratic party will be based on an old James Brown classic. So all you Democrats join in and say it once, say it loud, WE'RE BLACK AND WE'RE PROUD!


We have been on an anti-press jag for a few days here at "Random Thoughts" and I figured, If ain't broke... Anyway, the New York Times published a story earlier this week, which basically said that the administration was telling the so called "military experts" employed by the networks to discuss the Iraq war. All the retired military figures were actually still on the Pentagon payroll and were told what line of bullsh$t to spew to the press. This story hasn't gotten much play in the msm (mainstream media) because it makes them look like a bunch of idiots, but it is a clear example of how the media is no longer looking to report the news. They have basically become an arena for the talking points of the administration and the p0litical parties.

Headlines and lead stories in the press are all generated by the talking points that are force fed by politicians and staffers. Yesterday the press started reported on an ad that was supposed to start running in North Carolina which bashes two politicians who have endorsed Barack Obama. The Ad shows a picture of Obama and Wright together and includes the famous speech of Wright denouncing America. Now this ad hasn't actually run anywhere, in fact it may never run anywhere because both the RNC and John McCain have denounced it. However, because the MSM decided this was an issue, they have given the ad more air time than it ever would have gotten otherwise. Now instead of this ad just being run in parts of North Carolina, it's been seen all over the country. Could the Republican group in North Carolina have asked for anything more? All they did was release the ad to the press and then sit back and collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in free national air time.

I'm not sure if the press is even trying anymore. The Clinton campaign issued a press release yesterday which claimed that they are now ahead in the popular vote. Now anyone who has been paying attention to the election knows that the only way that Clinton is ahead in the popular vote is if you count the Florida and Michigan totals which everyone already knows DO NOT COUNT! So since this story is ridiculous on its face, why then would there be articles today discussing it? Why would the pundits have a discussion about whether Hillary does actually lead in the vote count? Why? Because they can't come up with their own stories. They just repeat what the campaigns send out every day.

From providing a forum for Bush administration propaganda to publicizing attack ads to reporting on nonsensical topics is about the breadth of "news coverage" these days. And with Rupert Murdoch moving closer to owning yet another NY news outlet (Newsday), this brand of so called "journalism" isn't likely to get better any time soon.

Helen of Troy

A member of the press was finally brave enough to call the administration on the issue of torture. That person is Helen Thomas. Ms. Thomas has covered every President since Kennedy and used to have a coveted first row seat for press conferences. She has since been relegated to the back row(officially reason is because she no longer works for a wire service) , although she does sit up front for press briefings. She has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and therefore is no longer regularly called upon by the President. As I have stated here before, the press has seemingly been unable or unwilling to follow up on the report that Bush administration not only condoned torture at the highest levels, but planned it out as well. The silence from the "Fourth Estate" has been all but deafening. Thankfully, Helen is still out there asking the questions that need to be asked. She got into a discussion with Dana Petrino (who recently admitted that the she didn't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was) about "torturegate". Here is part of her exchange with the White House press secretary yesterday:

"THOMAS: The President has said publicly several times, in two consecutive news conferences a few months ago, and you have said over and over again, we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap?

MS. PERINO: Helen, you’re taking liberties with the what the President said. The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror. And General Hayden, amongst others, have spoken on Capitol Hill fully in this regard, and it is — I’ll leave it where it is. The President is accurate in saying what he said.

THOMAS: That’s not my question. My question is, why did he state publicly, we do not torture —

MS. PERINO: Because we do not.

THOMAS: — when he really did know that we do?

MS. PERINO: No, that’s what I mean, Helen. We’ve talked about the legal authorities —

THOMAS: Are you saying that we did not?

MS. PERINO: I am saying we did not, yes.

THOMAS: How can you when you have photographs and everything else? I mean, how can you say that when he admits that he knew about it?

MS. PERINO: Helen, I think that you’re — again, I think you’re conflating some issues and you’re misconstruing what the President said.

THOMAS: I’m asking for the credibility of this country, not just this administration.

MS. PERINO: And what I’m telling you is we have — torture has not occurred. And you can go back through all the public record. Just make sure — I would just respectfully ask you not to misconstrue what the President said.

THOMAS: You’re denying, in this room, that we torture and we have tortured?

MS. PERINO: Yes, I am denying that.

THOMAS: Where is everybody? "

Where is everybody, indeed. Thank you, Helen. At least we know one reporter in Washington is still paying attention.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Marcus Brauchli has resigned from The Wall Street Journal...

Why should I care? Wasn’t this inevitable? Ever since Rupert Murdoch bought The Wall Street Journal, whose habitually right leaning op-ed pages have pushed intellectual dishonesty to new heights (read: lows), -the clock has been ticking on this paper’s credibility. I have to tell you, all things considered, it was still one of the world’s greatest newspapers. Its reporters have balls. Read today’s examination of McCain’s “crazy ol’ man tax cut plan” by Laura Melker. She opens her article thus:

“Sen. John McCain is proposing tax cuts that would either cause the federal deficit to explode or would require unprecedented spending cuts equal to one-third of federal spending on domestic programs.”

-I’m not bullshitting. That was in today’s Wall Street Journal, not The New York Times, and not The Nation. See it for yourself right here. There’s even a mucous and rotting grey color bar chart with breakdowns in case you’re confused about exactly how America gets fucked this time while big business rolls along on everybody else’s backs.
Make no mistake, John McCain will be our next president, and so far the WSJ seems to be the only paper asking hard questions about his intentions, their analysis impeccable… for at least a little while longer anyway. So say goodbye to all that useful shit, folks.

It would seem that Marcus Brauchli (who had a very good reputation for protecting reporters and their stories) was installed to calm everyone down a few months ago, staff, investors, editors, reporters, readers included. But now it’s apparent that was his only purpose, and at just short of a year (11 months) he is out as managing editor today, having outlived his uselessness (yes I’m feeling clever today). He filed his letter of resignation after meeting with the editorial independence board that was created when News Corp. bought WSJ’s publisher, Dow Jones. Now think about it... that an “editorial independence board” was formed as soon as Rupert Murdoch crept and slunk in through their window is an indication of how blatant his corrupting partisan elitist influence is. Rupert Murdoch is on a mission to end American journalism. The staff at the Wall Street Journal knew it, and so did you. Expect no editorializing, no talking points, opinions or other castigations and theatrical outrage from Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Anne Coulter or any of those other liars who claim to be watchdogs of bias and unfairness in the news media, while fomenting and perpretrating bias and unfairness in the news media.
Now that Brauchli has resigned, there is no one to protect this paper's credibility from its owner. For a fictional corresponding example, think of J. Jonah Jameson’s patrician mangling of the Daily Bugle… Oh wait, that’s right, JJJ at least went after the King Pin as well as Spiderman but Rupert Murdoch is the King Pin in this analogy. News Corp. executives reportedly visited the newsroom to address editors and reporters about the change and any concerns that might arise. They finished their remarks and purposefully didn’t give Mr. Brauchli a chance to make a formal farewell in the newsroom to his staff, something of a tradition when a managing Editor leaves a paper.

Bulldozing anything resembling the responsibilities of the Fourth Estate is the new tradition that Rupert Murdoch represents.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Hoosier Hysteria

The Pennsylvania primary is tomorrow and the press is in a tizzy. There is all kinds of silly speculation about what will happen tomorrow night and what it means for the "BIG PICTURE". The truth, of course, is that they already know what will happen, but are continuing to try and show that they have real influence with the voters. There are those that are still continuing to harp on Obama's "bitter" comment, even though the polls have shown that it had little effect. Today I heard one commentator saying that the comment had an effect because Clinton is leading by double digits in the so called T section of Pennsylvania between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Everyone and I mean everyone who has looked at the returns of any primary knew going in that Obama was going to struggle in these areas of the state and to now try and pin his performance there on his comment is just about the most ridiculous statement that someone who is supposed to know something about this race can make.

The Obama plan is simple, win Philly and the surrounding suburbs, try to keep it close in the Pittsburgh area and keep the rest of the state within 20 points. That was the strategy going in and it remains the strategy. Clinton entered this race 6 weeks ago with a lead approaching 25 points in some polls and is now down to a single digit lead according to the most recent polling. The undecideds will ultimately break in her favor and that will give her a higher margin of victory than the 5 points that some polls are currently showing. My prediction for tomorrow is a Clinton 54-46 victory. She could get to a 10 point margin depending upon turnout of her voting base.

The headlines on Wednesday will trumpet another "comeback" by Senator Clinton and once again question Obama's ability to "close out" the race. They will point to the late breakers and say things like, "maybe voters are taking a second look at Obama and they have some questions", And "Obama has once again failed to put an end to the Clinton campaign". The problem with this type of analysis is that it once again looks at the primary in a vacum. There are simply states that lean toward the individual candidates. Pennsylvania, like Ohio, is tailor made for Clinton. The only thing that gives Obama a chance to keep the state relatively close is the fact that Philly is a major urban center. The map tomorrow will look a lot like Missouri, where Clinton won the majority of the districts, but Obama won the popular vote by carrying the urban centers. Missouri is more sparsely populated than Pennsylvania, so Obama cannot count on Philly to carry the state, but the turnout there will likely determining whether he is an 8 point loser or a 12 point loser.

The last real remaining battle ground state is Indiana, which will hold it's primary in two weeks. Hillary should once again have an advantage, but Obama is running very well there. It is probably the last time that either candidate will be in a position to win a state that clearly leans toward the other candidate. That race is the first real chance for Obama to "close out" the race. Not New Hampshire, not super Tuesday, not Texas, not Ohio and not Pennsylvania. Those opportunities to end the nominating process were created by the press. No one who really understood the makeup of those states honestly could have expected Obama to beat Clinton in the popular vote. Indiana is different, though. It is the first and perhaps last opportunity to bring this process to a end before June. If Obama were to win there (even though he will lose by huge margins in West Virginia and Kentucky), I think you would start to see a major move by super delegates in his direction. Given the current breakdown of the delegates, he would need approximately 100 super delegates to announce for him in order to secure the nomination at the end of the primary season.

Watch Indiana. It may turn out to be the actual turning point of the primary season.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Phiasco in Philly

The Democratic "debate" last night highlighted everything that is wrong with the supposed journalists who are in charge of giving us the news. During a 2 hour debate, that was filled with commercial breaks, the moderators spent the first hour questioning the candidates about issues that have nothing to do with helping the American people. They actually spent time that should have been spent on real issues discussing what Obama's stance is on wearing a flag pin on his lapel. WTF!!!!*!$#!@@!??? Does anyone of any intelligence actually question Obama's patriotism? Does the wearing or not wearing of a flag pin somehow make someone a better or worse politician? Does this help get our soldiers out of Iraq? Does this help bring down gas prices? Does this help people afford health care??

How dare ABC, the home of Ted Koppel, allow such a disservice to be perpetrated upon the voters of this country. It is an example of tabloid journalism at its worst. Their basic premise was, "we'll get to the issues that actually affect America eventually, but could you answer this series of asinine questions first?". The American people deserved better.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Full Court Press

The press has decided that Barack Obama's comments to a group in San Francisco are of the utmost importance to America. The predictable faux outrage of both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have been covered as if they were delivering the Gettysburg address. Is this what the press in this country has been lowered to? Covering a story that means absolutely nothing and affects no one. When did the media become one big tabloid? Perhaps it has been all along and it has just taken me some time to notice. But there was a day when the press took down a Senator who was making outrageous claims and destroying people's lives for political gain. There was a day when the press took down the most powerful man in the world for trying to circumvent the Constitution. What is the press doing today? Trying to decide whether Obama's use of the word "bitter" will somehow damage his campaign.

Last week we had hearings in Washington in which the military leader of our forces in Iraq basically said that there is no way out of this conflict. Last week over 20 Americans were killed in a conflict with seemingly no end. Last week, there was a report that high ranking officials in the Bush administration had meetings in which they not only condoned torture, but laid out the blueprint for that torture. Last week the President acknowledged not only that these meetings took place, but that he was aware of the subject matter of the meetings. Last week thousands of children in this country went to bed hungry. Last week millions of Americans were still without health care. Last week thousands of Americans lost their homes. Last week thousands of Americans lost their jobs.

All these things went on last week, but yet the press is focusing on the semantics of a comment made by Barack Obama. Where are the priorities of the press? They say people are tired of the war and don't want to hear anymore about it? That is not a reason to limit coverage of a conflict that is costing American lives daily and is increasing our debt exponentially by the second. Ratings are not a substitute for news coverage. All stations are licensed to broadcast by the FCC and part of their responsibility in order to keep those licenses is to demonstrate that they are serving the public. At this point, the TV "news channels" are barely functioning as a benefit to the public. They have a string of talking heads come on and dazzle us with their brilliance while providing a minimum of actual substance. I personally don't care what Obama's pastor has been preaching for the past 20 years, I don't care that Hillary Clinton was once a Goldwater supporter, I don't care that John McCain's wife was a drug addict who used her own charitable organization as a front to acquire drugs illegally (Ok, I think that last one is kind of interesting, but irrelevant). I want to know about the issues that are affecting this country today and the ones that will affect us tomorrow. I want to know what the candidates solutions to those problems are. I don't care if Obama can bowl, I don't care if Hillary can shoot a rifle and I damn sure don't care what John McCain made for the press at his last cookout.

The push for ratings and sales has replaced journalistic integrity in today's press coverage. Why put an unpopular story about people dying in a war in front of the American people when you show them clips of Obama dancing on Ellen, or Hilllary chatting it up on the Tonight Show, or John McCain making fun of David Letterman on the Late Show? The press has decided that the American people can't handle the truth. We would rather be shown a string of sound bites than be made aware of what actually matters in this country. The dumbing down of America is complete when the press becomes a willing ally of the party in power and WE THE PEOPLE are too either too bored or too complacent to care.

I can hope that somewhere out there in this vast sea of nonsense, where it's hard to tell the difference between the nightly news and Entertainment Tonight, there is a beacon of light pointing the way toward a better future. Will the press ever bring down a President again? Unlikely, but perhaps it's time they try again. At least that way the President will have someone or something that actually questions his actions. This administration is a clear example of what happens when the executive branch is allowed to run unchecked. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and this administration has been study in absolute corruption.

The press will rise again when WE THE PEOPLE demand it. I'm just afraid that the American people have already become so used to the cult of personality, that we are sujected to on a daily basis, that the idea of real investigative journalism will fade into history and be lost forever. It's not too late to make a change, but it requires more than one voice to make a difference. Remember folks the best journalism is not supposed to reinforce what you already think, it's supposed to make you question what you think you already know.

Where have you gone, Edward R. Murrow? A nation turns its lonley eyes to you.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

With the First Selection...

I have figured out how we can prevent the United States from becoming embroiled in senseless wars. It may be unpopular, but by taking one step we could ensure that this country gets out of the business of pre-emptive wars. How, you may ask, do we stop our politicians from deciding that they simply must go to war to demonstrate how big their balls are? It's simple, reinstate the draft. If every man and woman in this country was required to serve in the armed forces then we would certainly not rush headforth into a conflict based on flimsy evidence and a long held grudge.

Reinstating the draft would make every American take a closer look when a future President tries to sell them a fantasy. Do you think George Bush would have been so anxious to go to war with Iraq if his daughters were on the front line? Every member of Congress would have a child, grandchild or close relative who would be fighting. And I'm not talking about reinstating the draft as it was during the Vietnam war, where the citizens on the lower end of the economic scale were disproportionately represented. I'm talking about the Israeli method. Everyone, regardless of income, race, gender or parental influence would be required to serve. No National Guard shenanigans, no educational deferments, no influence peddling to get out of service. If you are able bodied, then you are required to join the Armed forces.

I guarantee you that if the parents of every child in this country had to worry about his or her child being killed in a pointless war, they would pay a lot more attention to what was going in Washington. Back in 2002, George Bush sent his then Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations to present the "evidence" that Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction. This speech was supposed to convince the world and create the now infamous "coalition of the willing", who would rally around the United States and force Saddam Husein from power. I don't know how many Americans were watching, but the rest of the world was unimpressed, to say the least. The American public, which was still smarting from the 9/11 attacks bought the argument hook, line and sinker. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction, he has links to the 9/11 bombers, he'll take over the world if we don't stop him now! The administration was able to whip the public into a frenzy because no one stopped to examine the evidence closely. Now imagine the same scenario if every 20 year old in this country was in the armed forces. Do you think their parents would have been a little more skeptical? I'm sure the 20 year olds would have been.

At the end of the day, that's all that really needed to happen in order to prevent this quagmire that we now find ourselves in. If someone, the press, the American people, the soldiers, Congress, anyone would have just stepped up and raised the questions that are now being voiced, none of this would have happened. All it would have taken were some simple questions like, "What's our exit strategy?", "What happens to Iraq after we get rid of Saddam?", "What exactly is my son/daughter/grandchild/niece/nephew fighting for?", "What's our ultimate goal?". Any of these questions posed by a credible source could have made the difference. However since we have an all volunteer force, most Americans just pinned their ears back and jumped on the bandwagon. The Vice President has made it clear that the volunteers were not forced to serve, they chose to serve (I think he was trying to make some point about them being partially to blame for their own fate). I am fairly sure that if we were talking about the sons and daughters of the CEO of Halliburton, he would be a little more respectful.

It's time for the politicians and the citizens of this country to put their money where their mouths are. If they are so willingly duped by smoke and mirrors and are so willing to send our all volunteer service people into harms way, let's see how they react when they have to send their own sons and daughters to be killed and maimed for a lie. Let's see how long it takes for "war fatigue" to set in among the American public when they are looking at the shattered lives of their relatives and neighbors who have lost a loved one for a President's personal vendetta. Let's see how willing the press is to go along for the ride when their kids come home less whole than they were when they left.

Bring back the draft and every American will become an expert on foreign affairs and the policies of the government overnight. And that's a good thing, a very good thing.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


What is it good for? The song by the same title says, absolutely nothing, but I disagree. There are times when war has to be fought to protect the lives of innocent civilians and to oppose despots who are bent on world domination. America hasn't really had one of those situations since the second World War, but we have created a couple in order to keep our fighting men sharp and to test out our latest weapons under battle conditions.

The Iraq war began in March of 2003 and for all intents and purposes, ended on April 9th of the same year. On May 10th of 2003, The President of these here United States delivered his now infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech. So in about a month and a half, the stated goal of removing Saddam Hussein had been accomplished and most of the organized resistance had been eliminated and the Iraq war was ended. What we have been embroiled in since the date of "Mission Accomplished" is the "Iraq war". In order to fight a war, you need an enemy, a goal and at least a measurable standard for success. The United States currently has none of these. At least not in Iraq. Our goal is to supposedly fight al-qaeda (which according to reports make up less than 1% of the opposing forces) and to help the Iraqi government establish a stable and viable democracy. What the US forces actually spend most of their time doing is helping to quell sectarian violence within Iraq. So the "Iraq war" is actually a police action to help prevent a full scale civil war from erupting. The "Iraq war" is no more than the most expensive police force the world has ever seen, which has cost the United States the lives of more than 4,000 soldiers and will ultimately cost in the trillions of dollars.

I am not here to argue the merits of starting this war (there were none, by the way), but now that we are in a "war", could we at least agree to drop the silly tag. Could we stop having the President talk about how we are winning the "war", when there is no war to be won. The only real problem with fighting a "war" is that people die (without the quotes) just like they do in a real war. John McCain promises victory in the "war". I would like to know what exactly justifies victory when we aren't FIGHTING ANYONE! The men and women of the armed services who volunteered to serve their country are being done a great disservice by this "war".

There is an actual war going on in Afghanistan, but that has taken a back seat to the "Iraq war". How many more of our brave men and women have to die before we demand an end to this "war"? Kids play war all the time and no one dies, but this administration plays "war" and hundreds of thousands pay the ultimate cost. War is necessary at times for the good of mankind. This "war" was unnecessary and good for absolutely nothing.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? part 3

Arthur Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it!! Is that clear?! You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immanent, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multi-national dominion of dollars. Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state -- Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr. Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that perfect world in which there's no war or famine, oppression or brutality -- one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock…
all necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom… amused.

Excerpted from the 1976 film “Network”: Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen berating Peter Finch as Howard Beale.

Where will it end?
I’ve never thought the Rome analogy entirely applied to the United States. If only because the rest of the world has never been completely under US sovereignty, the cold war itself was at best the era of “two Romes”. Neither has collapsed, despite the fall of Stalinist Communism, Russia is still a world power and one of the world’s “emerging” economies at the same time. Yet I can still see the point.

What does exporting jobs and manufacturing contracts overseas -while keeping civil rights, labor rights and all safety standards stateside- have to do with Globalism?
Just as free market capitalism actually means oligarchy, Globalism actually means shifting everything you can’t make a buck on legally, to some off-shore faraway place where you can defy all parameters for fair business and labor practices, and essentially laugh at the unions and tell the working mothers of America to “go suck a dick”.
You know what I mean, that real profitable stuff like: child laborers for Nike, lead-based paints for Hasbro toys, and a slew of other throwbacks to the days of Carnegie and Fricke like 18 hour work days, insufficient light and food, indentured labor owing more than they make to on site company stores operated by their “employers”… Don’t you see how that all makes the world flatter?! More egalitarian?!! More competitive?!!!

Thomas Friedman is a fucking douche bag.
This is not what Adam Smith had in mind.

We elect the rich, the corporate leaders; so we get what we deserve.
While no one would argue that putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop is a sound strategy, it seems perfectly acceptable to make the fox “president” of the chicken coop.
“I mean come on; he’s their president, why would the fox do anything to harm the chickens?”
The answer is not because the fox is hungry or greedy… the answer is:
“because he can, stupid”.
The elites have figured out that a manipulated perception of reality is reality: thusly our media, our newspapers, our beloved Fourth estate is also hopelessly fucked. The watchers not only watch us, they own the only institutional means by which they can be observed and held accountable.

“Where will it end?” I asked at the start of this third and final post on the modern horrors of blindingly trusting our guardians. The answer is… it never ends. The empowered rich who achieve government office always have that strange way of asking, “we the people”, who they supposedly represent, to be patient for the things nobody should wait for: e.g. shelter (Hurricane Katrina victims are still in trailers and Bear Stearns is bailed out while millions of Americans are losing their homes thanks in large part to their failed dealings).
The elites must ask us to be patient for these things because they benefit directly from those needs: from their prolongation, and the promise of the resolution of those needs, whether they allow themselves to consciously recognize it or not.
Why help someone, if you can only make profits off of their need? The answer is you don’t. You capitalize on misery and misfortune; maybe even create a problem or two that only you have the solution to. Charge accordingly, hit the dumb bastards with a high APR if they can’t pay outright, always encourage financing.
Why do we still trust the rich, vote them into office and ask them to watch over us, over our government, over our very lives?
If it’s hard to see, that’s because “it’s twilight in America” and the AAA has always said the worst accidents happen at dusk.

Who watches the watchers?

Now, I don’t know anymore… and nobody’ll tell me.


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? part 2

Göering:Naturally, the common man doesn't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göering: Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Excerpted from a conversation between Gustave Gilbert, Ph.D. and Hermann Göering, Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe Chief, in 1945.

Here we are. The first financial quarter of 2008 has closed and even President Bush is finally admitting we might be in an economic downturn… so you know things are in actuality much worse since this administration has never acknowledged any reality or fact it didn’t like. After all, it took years before anyone in the Bush administration admitted things didn’t go as they planned in Iraq. We are in a war that transformed into a police action and is now an occupation with no end in sight. If the goal was to knock Iraq back into an unstable feudal state, well then “Mission Accomplished”.
Before you accuse me of being a leftwing pacifist (which is only an accusation if the person calling you that, is not a leftwing pacifist) let me outline the reasons, before and after the War’s commencement on why it should not have been fought.

Before the war’s start:
-The power to declare war is clearly delegated to the legislative branch in the Constitution, i.e. the Congress. (See Article I, Section 8, Clause 11.) Now while Congress drew up an authorization of the use of force against "those nations, organizations, or persons he [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons”. No actual connection was ever determined between the 911 attacks and Iraq. Frankly there was a bigger case to be made against Saudi Arabia and Syria, if the President and his administration were interested in holding nations accountable.
-There was no credible evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction. The reports and testimony of Yellow Cake procurement in Africa by Iraqi agents and proxies was not credible, and was disputed by various individuals and analysts within the Intelligence community. There were CIA reports that essentially stated that Iraq had abandoned WMD programs after 1991.

After the war’s start:
There is a fundamental lack of competency with which the war was planned. Military experts and senior staff, and even Generals were coerced into undertaking the invasion and subsequent war with insufficient forces and inadequate equipment all under the direction of Donald Rumsfeld.
Then there is also the hiring of private security firms to protect independent contractors in danger zones. Private security firms are not held to the conduct standards, legal strictures nor are they accountable to the chain of command of the United States Armed Forces and ultimately our Commander in Chief. Private security firms should never be contracted for protection in places of war, they are not the Army. By the way, there is another word for private security firms, a more brusque word, but one that needs to be reinstated as it has no euphemistic quality. That word is “mercenary”. We have contracted mercenaries in Iraq to protect independent contractors.

All of this administration’s failures, its breaches of law and protocol, and its incompetencies are grounds for President Bush’s impeachment, in my opinion, as a citizen of the United States. Why? -because these lies, malfeasances and abuses of power have cost many, many lives. George Tenet and Donald Rumsfeld are just the sacrificial lambs for this colossal tragedy. Remember that they didn’t get charged with any crimes. Their ousters were just pacifiers for the journalists, who were too late realizing their own gullibility, incompetence and complicity.

I am not a pacifist, and never have been. But I would never commit a soldier; a human being who has essentially rescinded his right to abstain from mortal combat for the good, for the well being of the nation, to a war I would not personally take up arms to fight in. Therein lies the answer perhaps... If we lived in a nation where every single one of us, every man and woman had to serve -with no deferment possible-, no rich daddies sending you to the National Guard in Texas in time of war, maybe we’d ask more of our “leaders” when they said we were going to attack a country just to keep us safe. Maybe we’d ask if the war was really worth it. Maybe we’d ask why?

I’d like to suggest something to you, a simple thing:
Congressional powers of oversight are not the congress’s to give away.

The Congress’s powers of oversight are bestowed upon them by the people. If our Congress and is unwilling or unable to speak the truth to power, especially when we the people don’t have the good sense to tell a president’s administration that; it is stepping over the line, it doesn’t rule us, that it is supposed to represent us, -then they are not the Congress anymore. They went along with a very big spurious lie. The powers of oversight implicit in the doctrine of checks and balances are what install government as an extension of the people’s will, not the president’s.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The answer is still you, dude.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? part 1

After the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, the Bush administration seized on a moment that comes only a few times in history. It is a moment when the zeitgeist aligns itself uniformly and monolithically out of fear and anger and stands in reverent attention to the loudest voice on the globe. Pearl Harbor was the last such time in United States history.

On September 12th, 2001, whereas many of the world’s nations expressed compassion to New Yorkers and their fellow Americans, the White House and its various shadow players looked at its citizens and identified a particular confusion, perhaps even a weakness and a willingness born of the former, in the public will.
One thing stood in the way: the Constitution of the United States. No one should be surprised that a piece of paper is no match for a country’s fear and anger.

The Bush administration’s first hurdle was the Constitution’s protection against “unreasonable search and seizure”. It was internally decided that such protections didn't apply to its efforts to protect the people against terrorist acts. It wouldn’t end there; torture and rendition would also be secretly considered, tacitly approved in later documents.

What? Nobody told you? That’s because it was spelled out in a secret Justice Department legal memo on October 23, 2001...
The October 23, 2001 memo is what I am calling the “dark heart” of this new twilight in American democracy, it is an as yet unseen writ that radiates justifications for abuses of power, its arteries snaking outward to all critical aspects of government and public policy in the 21st century. Welcome to the new American Republic, where disregard for the bill of rights is the new patriotism, and your civil liberties are a danger or at least an inconvenience to national security.The “dark heart” memo was written at the request of the White House by Professor John C. Yoo. Professor Yoo is that gentleman who used the term “Executive Powers” so often in public appearances, he seemed to be advocating a switch to monarchy in times of war. The man was so enamored of the expansion of powers that he gave his ideas a name, eschewing that whole tacky “Monarchy” connotation. Professor Yoo called it his “Unitary Executive Theory”. No I’m not kidding... He later contributed passages to what would eventually be called the Patriot Act and wrote memos in which he advocated the legality of torture and insisted that enemy combatants could be denied the protections granted under the Geneva Conventions. Yes, those Geneva conventions. Those Geneva conventions which we, as a nation, also signed and swore to uphold, -and not just when we felt like it.

And just to show you he meant business and wasn’t some starry eyed high-schooler who was obsessed with “the Royals”, and pining for our own King of the United States and Lady Di, Professor John C. Yoo made the following statements in a 2005 debate with Notre Dame Law School Professor Doug Cassel in Chicago with everyone listening… or apparently not:

Professor Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Professor Yoo: No treaty.
Professor Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Professor Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.

Hide your kid’s balls from the president, we are at war people.

Professor Yoo has repeatedly criticized the Separation of Powers doctrine, a cornerstone of our Republic, as “problematic” for the “War on Terror”. I know, I know, democracy is such a damn nuisance when you’re trying to declare everyone who opposes the president an enemy combatant.

The 37-page secret Justice Department legal memo is an officially classified document. Its existence was discovered Tuesday (Happy April Fool’s you dicks, you don’t live in a democracy!) in the footnote of a different special secret memo from March 14, 2003, that was finally released by the Pentagon. The only reason we know about this later memo in the first place is due entirely to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by those dependable troublemakers at the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Our office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations" the 2003 footnote states. The footnote indicates the earlier October 2001 memo by Professor Yoo called "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States."

While it may seem that I’m simultaneously citing instances of the Bush administration’s initiatives to leapfrog over constitutional privacy protections and international law, it’s important to note the synchronicity at work in this administration’s efforts to undermine basic democratic principles.

It is the overreaching surveillance, and the persistent illusion of privacy that makes the erosion of basic human rights principles possible… and perhaps inevitable.

Exactly what specific domestic military actions are indicated by the “dark heart” memo are as yet unknown. We know that it is perhaps the first salvo by the NeoCons, so eager to seize the September 11th attacks as an opportunity to disarm the Constitution... that they forgot their own communications can also be seized for the sake of national security.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Why, you of course.