Saturday, January 31, 2009

Greg Palast: Obama's a DEMOCRAT

Greg Palast is right to point to the great change that Obama is using his political capital to enforce. Not to be a wet blanket, but if Obama didn't need any Republican votes on the stimulus bill, why did he have to put so much of it into tax cuts? Or was that somehow a good thing? The $500 credit vs. social security payments was surely good. I'm almost sorry now I retired -- how I used to resent not getting credit for those deductions. But for job creation Obama might have -- maybe he did-- give a similar deduction to employers. But what do I know?
Meanwhile we can try to enjoy the gains so far -- if Obama can get his bill passed. And we can resume worrying about Israel-Palestine/ Afghanistan/ Iraq/Pakistan the week after that.

Obama is a two-faced liar. Aw-RIGHT!

by Greg Palast

January 29, 2009

Republicans are right. President Barack Obama treated them like dirt,
didn't give a damn what they thought about his stimulus package, loaded it with a
bunch of programs that will last for years and will never leave the budget, is
giving away money disguised as "tax refunds," and is sneaking in huge changes in
policy, from schools to health care, using the pretext of an economic emergency.

Way to go, Mr. O! Mr. Down-and-Dirty Chicago pol. Street-fightin' man.
Covering over his break-your-face power play with a "we're all post-partisan
friends" BS.

And it's about time.

Frankly, I was worried about this guy. Obama's appointing Clinton-droids
to the Cabinet, bloated incompetents like Larry Summers as "Economics Czar," made
me fear for my country, that we'd gotten another Democrat who wished he were a

Then came Obama's money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for
schools (TRIPLING
federal spending on education), expanding insurance coverage to the
making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by
creating a
$500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

It's as if Obama dug up Ronald Reagan's carcass and put a stake through The
Gipper's anti-government heart. Aw-RIGHT!

About the only concession Obama threw to the right-wing trogs was to
remove the subsidy for condoms, leaving hooker-happy GOP Senators, like David Vitter,
to pay for their own protection. S'OK with me.

And here's the proof that Bam is The Man: Not one single Republican
voted for the bill. And that means that Obama didn't compromise, the way
and Carter would have, to win the love of these condom-less jerks.

And we didn't need'm. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

Now I understand Obama's weird moves: dinner with those creepy conservative
columnists, earnest meetings at the White House with the Republican
leaders, a dramatic begging foray into Senate offices. Just as the Republicans say,
it was all a fraud. Obama was pure Chicago, Boss Daley in a slim skin, putting
his arms around his enemies, pretending to listen and care and compromise, then
slowly, quietly, slipping in the knife. All while the media praises Obama's
Heh heh heh.

Love it. Now we know why Obama picked that vindictive little viper Rahm
Emanuel as staff chief: everyone visiting the Oval office will be greeted by the
Windy City hit man who would hack up your grandma if you mess with the

I don't know about you, but THIS is the change I've been waiting for.

Will it last? We'll see if Obama caves in to more tax cuts to investment
bankers. We'll see if he stops the sub-prime scum-bags from foreclosing on
frightened families. We'll see if he stands up to the whining, gormless generals who
don't know how to get our troops out of Iraq. (In SHIPS, you doofusses!)

Look, don't get your hopes up. But it may turn out the new President's ... a Democrat!


Greg Palast's investigative reports for BBC and Rolling Stone can be seen
Palast is the author of New York Times bestsellers The Best Democracy
Money Can
Buy and Armed Madhouse.

Ken's comment:

Who cares about any of this when O-BOMB-A is busy killing Palestinians and Afghans?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bush spurns pardons -- Left Outmaneuvered Again

Left Outmaneuvered Again – Bush rejects pardons

Yes, they were clever, very clever. President George W. Bush’s decision not to utilize his pardon power on behalf of top administration officials (or just about anybody else) has confounded the expectations of many observers.

In hindsight, we have to admit it was a brilliant move, their best gambit under the circumstances. It repeats their winning strategy of admitting, after their criminality was exposed by the New York Times in December 2005, that they engaged in widespread warrantless wiretapping.

Similarly, we can now see that by not issuing pardons, they have chosen their best option. They have dared Obama and Congress to try and hold them accountable. Had they issued wide ranging pardons in the manner many expected, they could have counted on a massive outcry and pressure on the Obama administration and on Congress to follow up appropriately.

They understood that the more Obama and Congress resisted such pressure, the more traction the issue would have. Last minute pardons by Bush would have amounted to a significant stain on his legacy, as for example the Marc Rich pardon has tarnished the Clinton legacy. Bush’s decision not to issue pardons does as much as was in his power to defuse the issue of his extraordinary crimes. It also allows Obama and Congress to quietly sidestep the issue if they so choose.

Whether there will be any measure of accountability for the Bush-Cheney crimes may depend on whatever pressure the Left can mount on the Obama administration and the decisions of incoming Attorney General Eric Holder. The indications are that Bush’s decision has already paid dividends with the announcement (1.27.09) that veteran Senator Arlen Specter, the decisive voice behind the Republican attempt to impose conditions on Eric Holder has come out in favor of the nomination after a private conversation with him. (See “Sen. Specter Backs Holder--But What Did Holder Promise?” by David Swanson, of the website.) Swanson reports speculation suggesting that Holder may have agreed not to investigate Bush’s torture policies.


A surprising development is Dick Cheney’s post inauguration public statement expressing outrage that Bush didn’t pardon top vice presidential aide, Scooter Libby. If Cheney’s statement was sincere, it could suggest a depth to the schism between Bush and Cheney that many hadn’t suspected. We might have guessed that Cheney would have been able to enforce his will on the subject.

We can wonder if the Bush people had their own sufficiently deep understanding of the extent of the pathology of their indispensable colleague and they wished to preserve some distance from the darkness.

Footnote to Addendum

The above addendum raises a question that I had thought was settled in my own mind: namely the question of the extent to which there was any difference in agenda between Bush and Cheney, and the extent to which George W. Bush was a willing and knowledgeable participant in the policies and crimes of his administration.

There was no doubt in my mind (and I find evidence to suggest) that the two men shared exactly the same agenda of pathological destruction. I never thought that Bush was merely an empty shirt or puppet, and I continue to believe that Bush knew and approved virtually all the policies that Cheney promoted and enforced.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Gaza Pogrom: Israel Required Palestinians Rockets to Inflict Pogrom + Sniegoski on the power of the Lobby

This image from Israeli sources of a Quassam rocket which apparently landed in Israel from the Gaza strip seems to have Hebrew markings. One question is how did it get such markings?
[:Note: I was later reminded by an alert reader that the Hebrew markings are most likely messages sent in Hebrew to their Jewish cousins. Thanks for the correction.}*SAM96tleUKVQoEYkzVDKGppMnQkwLWkuwx4BGWcjJXIG4Aj8uswEv21EFEMcCq81jX116h1BwqnYKX7py/qassam19.jpg

Are they of Israeli origin and if so how did they get to Gaza? If indeed the rockets were made with Israeli parts and "smuggled" to Gaza by means of the Rafah tunnels, that might be one more piece of evidence that this whole "crisis" was manufactured, just as was the 33 day Lebanon War of 2006 with the active participation of the Bush administration and Elliot Abrams, their point man on the Middle East. .

Many have noted that it was Israel who broke the cease fire on Nov 4, 2008 by killing six Hamas activists -- not to mention cutting off vital food and fuel shipments and everything else. Israeli pressure on the Palestinians was dramatically ratcheted up after the January 2006 Parliamentary elections which Hamas won. The elections themselves were insisted upon by the Bush administration, knowing that Hamas would win. (Remarkably this point was made in the US election campaign.) And once again, as in the Lebanon war, it is the US is playing a leading role preventing a cease fire. It is also clear to many that Israel is deliberately targeting civilians just as they are targeting the civil infrastructure so as to make life as difficult as possible for 1.5 million Gazans. Their long range plan is to eliminate non Jews entirely. Could any message be clearer? We don't want you here!!

I was surprised to find in the Forward, a report from a right-wing think tank, the Jerusalem based Shalem Center (not to be confused with the Leftist Philadelphia based Shalom Center) quoting senior fellow Martin Kramer acknowledging that “Israel could have ceased Hamas rocket fire by opening crossings.” Although the Forward article confusingly continues with Kramer saying that “from a political point of view, it is not about rockets but about crossings,” it’s remarkable to find a right wing or any wing Israeli or pro Zionist voice acknowledging that the rockets (and Israeli casualties) have been driven by Israeli policy. (See "What Happens to Gaza When the Fighting Stops?" )

We can see the current attack on Gaza as yet another post-November parting gift from the Bush-Cheney administration to the incoming Obama team and to the world. (The deep and ongoing CIA/ISI connection suggests that it's not unlikely that the recent terror attack in Mumbai was their first such gift.) In both cases, their actions betray, as have all their policies for the last eight years, their nihilist agenda of permanent war and limitless destruction for its own sake.

As for the wall-to- wall pro Israeli line in the media and in Congress in the face of unspeakable atrocities against a captive, helpless gentile people by Israel and the West who claim Never Again as on abiding mantra, most readers understand that the power of the Lobby, when it comes to defending the most vicious Israeli ruthlessness goes beyond even their grassroots supporters.

Nevertheless it’s worthwhile reviewing a few timely paragraphs from author and analyst Stephen Sniegoski on “Congress’ Gaza Resolution Illustrates Power of the Israel Lobby”

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Sniegoski writes:

According to the critics, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their “The Israel Lobby,” much exaggerated the power of the lobby. The critics claimed that congressional support for Israel simply reflected the views of the American people. Congress’ recent resolution on Gaza, however, would seem to belie this criticism and underscore the immense power of the Israel Lobby. Congress almost unanimously endorsed the Israeli mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip, which, of course, involves the use of American weapons. By voice vote, the Senate gave unanimous support for the resolution. The House of Representatives voted 390 for the resolution with only 5 against [Kucinich, Moore (WI), Paul, Rahall, Waters]

The view of the American public, however, was significantly different. As the following article points out, the American people “do not support this senseless slaughter in anything near overwhelming numbers.” [Quoting from a Rasmussen Poll]

“Americans, while far more sympathetic to Israel than the Palestinians, are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip. Forty-four percent (44%) say Israel should have taken military action against the Palestinians, but 41% say it should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the problems there...”

[Source: Rasmussen Reports, Dec. 31, 2008]

The author continues: “If 41% of Americans didn't support the onset of military action, surely fewer than that support the disproportionate murder of over 700 people. Yet, 89.6% of our representatives just voted to express our government's support for this crime. Less than one percent of the House voted 'no'.”

The author wonders, rather pretends to wonder, “How did we get to this point where there is such a massive distortion and disconnect between what the public thinks and how their representatives vote? That's a matter for speculation.”

Let’s engage in a little “speculation.” Despite a media which has slanted coverage of Gaza about as much as possible in favor of Israel (totally different from what the rest of the world is getting), the American public is roughly divided on the issue of the correctness of the Israeli attack. That Congress provides almost unanimous support for Israel (even when such support is contrary of American national interest since it increases world hatred of the US) would seem to indicate the power of the Israel Lobby.

Very few of those Americans who oppose the Israeli attack on Gaza base their political support and voting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and even those few who do lack the wherewithal to make much of a political impact. In contrast, the Israel Lobby can exert considerable power (money, media) against those members of Congress who oppose it. Since members of Congress, in the main, tend to be lacking in sincere conviction and political courage, they are not willing to take the chance of opposing the Israel Lobby. Of course, the same is true in the media—bucking the lobby is simply not career enhancing. The vast majority of people simply prefer career success in the media or politics as opposed to becoming a martyr—especially a martyr who might be smeared as a devil by the pro-Israel saturated media. Average Americans don’t sacrifice much by taking a position opposed to Israel—certainly, in most cases, their jobs do not depend on their views of Israeli policy. --S.S.


The Gaza Strip Conflict Resolution

by BooMan

Fri Jan 9th, 2009

On the scale of offensive one-sidedness in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the ironically named Gaza Strip Conflict Resolution is probably about a 'five'. The actual text of the resolution has a couple of disputable facts, but its real fault lies in its arbitrary selection of facts. Yet, critiquing the factual basis for the resolution is outside the scope of this essay. It was carefully crafted to assure maximum support. And it just received maximum support in the House, where it passed by a vote of 390-5 with 22 Democrats voting 'present' and 16 representatives not voting.

The five representatives that voted against the resolution are Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ron Paul (R-TX), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Maxine Waters (D-CA). I believe 21 of the 22 Democratic members that voted 'present' are members of the Progressive Caucus.

The important thing is that 390 members of the House voted for a resolution that states (in part):

Read more:

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gleen Greenberg on Liberals supporting Gaza Massacre

I've been a fan of Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald for more than a year and in the past I've criticized him because, like so many others he seemed to be avoiding the question of the power of the Lobby to ensure that Democrats get behind Bush's "War on Terror" because it was directed at Arabs and Muslims.

So it's been a welcome relief to find that he's taken such a strong line against the ongoing horror in Gaza and the more than 40 year Israeli occupation. If anyone but Jews were massacring a defenseless population the good liberals that Greenwald cites in the first paragraph below would be very clear about who was the aggressor and who was the victim.


Here are three paragraphs from Glenn Greenwald's Sunday Jan. 4, 2009, offering:
Orwell, blinding tribalism, selective Terrorism, and Israel/Gaza

I can't express how many emails I've received in the last week from people identifying themselves as "liberals" (and, overwhelmingly, American Jews); telling me that they agree with my views in almost all areas other than Israel; and then self-righteously insisting that I imagine what it's like to live in Southern Israel with incoming rocket fire from Hamas, as though that will change my views on the Israel/Gaza war. Obviously, it's not difficult to imagine the understandable rage that Israelis feel when learning of another attack on Israeli civilians, in exactly the way that American rage over the 9/11 attacks was understandable. But just as that American anger didn't justify anything and everything that followed, the fact that there are indefensible attacks on Israeli civilians doesn't render the (far more lethal) attacks on Gaza either wise or just -- as numerous Jewish residents of Sderot themselves are courageously arguing in opposing the Israeli attack.

More to the point: for those who insist that others put themselves in the position of a resident of Sderot -- as though that will, by itself, prove the justifiability of the Israeli attack -- the idea literally never occurs to them that they ought to imagine what it's like to live under foreign occupation for 4 decades (and, despite the 2005 "withdrawal from Gaza," Israel continues to occupy and expand its settlements on Palestinian land and to control and severely restrict many key aspects of Gazan life). No thought is given to what it is like, what emotions it generates, what horrible acts start to appear justifiable, when you have a hostile foreign army control your borders and airspace and internal affairs for 40 years, one which builds walls around you, imposes the most intensely humiliating conditions on your daily life, blockades your land so that you're barred from exiting and prevented from accessing basic nutrition and medical needs for your children to the point where a substantial portion of the underage population suffers from stunted growth.

So extreme is their emotional identification with one side (Israel) that it literally never occurs to them to give any thought to any of that, to imagine what it's like to live in those circumstances. Nor does this thought occur to them:

* * * * *

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Nir Rosen (Guardian, UK): The State defines terrorism: It's what the Other does, not what we do

An occupied citizen attacks an occupying soldier, and she is the terrorist?

See below for selections from Nir Rosen's timely article on who is a terrorist.

But first:

It’s a lesson in human nature and a reminder of human history to see how night is turned into day and how the massacre of a captive people is justified in the West. (The world that Bush and Cheney have succeeded in bringing closer and closer to the level of their beloved Taliban over the last 8 years.)

In a personal note, my family narrowly escaped Hitler’s inferno and my brush with extinction perhaps contributed to the difficulty I had understanding how an educated people could engage in such a degree of self deception when their government embarked on massive crimes against the Other.

Over time I learned that tribal loyalty trumps everything, especially reality. Nevertheless, I might have hoped never to see a whole people treated like … I was going to say the way Hitler and his most vicious and barbaric colleagues in all of history treated their enemies, but even Hitler preferred to do so out of sight of the world’s notice. Well, one concession the Israelis have made to our sensibilities is that they have attempted to keep the media out of Gaza. Ok, score one for the Israelis.

The power of Zionism, the ideology of a purely Jewish state has risen, with the malicious assistance of Bush and Cheney, to unparallelled brutality and remorselessness. As one analyst has described it: “Organized Jewry is a quasi-sovereign power in this country, a menace to all of us.” The current assault on Gaza and the shameless response of its wall to wall supporters suggest that we may be seeing the monster of Zionism come out of its slouch in the darkness, emboldened now to confront us unabashedly with dripping jaw, seeking to destroy everything, including itself.

Meanwhile here are a few illuminating paragraphs from Nir Rosen’s latest article for the Guardian.

from Nir Rosen: “ Gaza: the logic of colonial power”

The Guardian. 29 December 2008

Terrorism is a normative term and not a descriptive concept. An empty word that means everything and nothing, it is used to describe what the Other does, not what we do. The powerful – whether Israel, America, Russia or China – will always describe their victims' struggle as terrorism, but the destruction of Chechnya, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – with the tens of thousands of civilians it has killed … these will never earn the title of terrorism, though civilians were the target and terrorizing them was the purpose….

Normative rules are determined by power relations. Those with power determine what is legal and illegal. They besiege the weak in legal prohibitions to prevent the weak from resisting. For the weak to resist is illegal by definition. Concepts like terrorism are invented and used normatively as if a neutral court had produced them, instead of the oppressors.

Attacking civilians is the last, most desperate and basic method of resistance when confronting overwhelming odds and imminent eradication. The Palestinians do not attack Israeli civilians with the expectation that they will destroy Israel. The land of Palestine is being stolen day after day; the Palestinian people is being eradicated day after day. As a result, they respond in whatever way they can to apply pressure on Israel. Colonial powers use civilians strategically, settling them to claim land and dispossess the native population, be they Indians in North America or Palestinians in what is now Israel and the Occupied Territories. When the native population sees that there is an irreversible dynamic that is taking away their land and identity with the support of an overwhelming power, then they are forced to resort to whatever methods of resistance they can….

…Haaretz reported that a Palestinian woman blinded an Israeli soldier in one eye when she threw acid in his face. "The terrorist was arrested by security forces," the paper said. An occupied citizen attacks an occupying soldier, and she is the terrorist?

Read more: