New Civilization News: The King of Mountebanks?    
 The King of Mountebanks?30 comments
picture31 Jan 2008 @ 19:53, by Paul Quintanilla

If the Devil is at play here, and he is setting us up for the one two punch, then Barack is his main man. The perfect front.

For after eight years of George Bush, of nightly seeing a President of the United States on television smirk, lie, mangle the language, and smile confidently and broadly as countless die, all at his hand, the dignified portrait of noble and eloquent sobriety Obama brings us is the perfect contrast.

And a horrible mockery, in this moment of our history, if he is not the “real thing.”

If Obama is a fake then he is truly the King of Mountebanks. And there has never been anyone quite like him.

He comes at a time when this country lays prone on the mat, not knocked out, but certainly down. He comes at a time when he appears as the perfect man to stretch out his hand and help the country back up. The man who knows what to say, what will make us feel good, how to begin the healing.

But is he more than that?

When Bill Clinton came onto the scene sixteen years ago he offered pretty much the same promise. And he was - if you happen to be progressive - a bust. He caved constantly to the right, gave us NAFTA, free trade, sacked the poor, and “triangulated” whenever he faced a fight. Now he is teaching us a new meaning for his crown “Slick Willy.” A title we can thank the Republican right for which those of us who once were Clinton apologists can fully understand and see. Though Kenneth Starr and his pack of rabid wolves were far worse.

What are the problems facing us? I won’t go through the lengthy list, yet again. What are Obama’s remedies? They don't actually appear that much different from Hillary’s. Where Obama truly shines is in the hope department, in uplifting the American spirit. His critics say much more than that is needed. And that millions of Americans have merely been mesmerized, irrationally projecting all their hopes and desires on this one man no one really knows.

They may be right.

But can those qualities Obama brings us be truly faked? Those of us who watch the passing scene see many fakes and phonies parade by. Romney is an excellent example over on the Republican side. Often they are too vulgar to be taken seriously. If Obama is a fake he is a fake with an enormous amount of class. He has perfected the appearance of a heightened nobility, and most mountebanks rarely succeed in those qualities. They in fact appeal frequently to the baser emotions, which is why if Obama is a fake he is the King of Mountebanks. And truly the Devil’s tool. For he has discovered how to employ a heightened noble air to fool the public. Let’s not forget, the candidate of choice is often the guy the voter would like to “have a beer” with. Like George Bush who convinced many voters he was a just a “regular guy” who really cared about them.

An early reviewer of Malcolm Lowry’s novel, Under the Volcano, criticized Lowry, an unknown novelist at the time, of having written a book which only simulated a great novel. Future critics and scholars have had some fun at the expense of this early critic’s assessment. For, of course, Under the Volcano was eventually accepted into the cannon. And has since then been recognized as a great novel.

It appeared like a great novel because it was.

I think it is normal and natural to balk, to wonder if we are being offered the real thing. Especially in politics (and in art) where fakes often abound. But if Obama’s not the real thing then he is indeed the King of Mountebanks. So I’m going to take a chance. Hillary is no alternative. And if we are heading toward the edge of a cliff anyway I’m curious to see what Obama will do.

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1 Feb 2008 @ 17:11 by jazzolog : One Good Thing
in this campaign has been the opportunity to coalesce a true opinion about Bill Clinton. We have been otherwise occupied these last years. I'm meaning an evaluation of the Clinton policies and for what his fancy politics were designed. I have a friend who last week called Clinton the best Republican president since Eisenhower.

We also are getting a truer sense of how the American people are feeling. We've been in a dictatorship and now know what it's like to have no news or sense of community as a nation. And we know it doesn't take many generations for any vestige of an "honest man" to vanish completely from our expectations.

But it appears the people the primaries are producing as leading contenders are those that look to be honest in some way at least. And, except to the rich, that trait seems to be good enough.  

1 Feb 2008 @ 19:02 by vaxen : It's...
the 'rich' what's paradin the puppets, jazzolog! Or do you really think the president is anything but a CEO of the biggest Corporation on the planet? Presidents do NOT make policy.

That's hacked out in dark chamber all night 'sessions' that 'We The People,' another 'Corporation,' are not 'privy' to. Mind your P's and Q's and forget about the made for Television bullcrap you seem so wont to discuss.

Dictator means 'speaker.' I guess you had delusions that good old USA was, first a Republic (Res Publica) then a Democracy (Collectivism) but in reality it is neither. It is truly a Fascist Oligarchy pretending to be a Democracy. 14th Amendment citizens don't vote for anythiing. Voting is simply a 'practice' instantiated to make you 'feel good about your indebtedness.

And where is our Ambassador Wanta today? The guardian, for the 'people' of all that money. $25.7 Trillion dollars in banks all over the world: A trust fund, set up ostensibly by R. Reagan and his hiiligans, for us, for a rainy day in Helljas bougher. Honest? You talk about honest? get honest adn you'll see through the multifiltered petri dish of fantastic lies being told by all the runners in the 'race.' Race is no issue? What race did you say it was? The 'Great Game' perchance?

No one cares about these global clowns anymore for anyone with a lick of sense is fast ridding their hearts and minds of this hill of beans! And everyone knows what the Romans thought of beans. Obama? "The Golden Ass of Apuleius" - Robert Graves

Maybe you could benefit from a deep perusal of Brzezinsky's "The Grand Chessboard." Oh, I do have a rather interesting revelation as to who Obama san really is it comes in the form of a pdf and is called "Obama Revealed." Any takers? Nah, I don't suppose there are. Too many well delusioned satraps among us. "Wage War by Deception." Gee, who's motto is that?

Obama will do what he is told to do. EOF

PS: For your information Eisenhower was a collectivist. The collective rules your country, your pocket book, and your life. Collectivism is one stage beyond communism and democracy, which is used to usher in communism which is used to usher in collectivism which is where you're at right now. Collectivist mania. The hive mind. The TV hive mind. Same old Hegelian game. Delphi Technique anyone? Know what that is?  

1 Feb 2008 @ 19:58 by Quinty @ : WARNING

I would like to remind anyone addressing anyone else on this page to do so in a civil and thoughtful manner, with a display of simple rudimentary respect.

Such terms as "delusions" "sattrap" "hive mind" and other insulting and thoughtless putdowns will result in the imposition of the dread 86.  

2 Feb 2008 @ 01:12 by bushman : Hmm,
Truth, is a put down, truth, is a put down, truth, is a put down. Now theres a twist of collective reality? lol, Orwell loling, saying, "I told you so" under his last breath. Soma, anyone?  

2 Feb 2008 @ 01:39 by Quinty @ : Yes, yes
thank you. For reminding us truth discomforts some people. A truly novel observation.

But on this site I hope at least to maintain a civil and rational conversation. If this basic rule is too much for some of you then please go elsewhere. That is those of you who find offending anyone you disagree with necessary in order to make your point. As if that somehow proved your superiority. Orwell may have understood that too.  

2 Feb 2008 @ 06:10 by bushman : Ah
Well I do understand your point of view, diolog should be in the old style dialect that us younger folk just don't use. My point is these elections are just like that Cherios comercial, where everything in the store is a box of Cherios, yet you see people trying to choose, I want that one , no I mean that one, ya that one , thanks. Its Soma man, what ever makes you happy. And yet your main post is not a wink different in the put downs of the Chimp who runs this country, you want us to react as someone born in the 40s, where is the rationality in that? How is this election going to brighten our kids kids future, or is it all about health care that people born in the 40s need so desperatly that they would sell out their kids kids for it? This, the vote you vote, not the future for the kids, but your future. Your Soma.  

2 Feb 2008 @ 17:10 by Quinty @ : Soma.
in my world means South of Marker, a neighborhood in San Francisco. What's Soma?

I repeat (for what I hope is the last time) that so long as I have any say in the matter disparaging, ugly, and needlessly insulting comments of other contributors here will not be accepted. And the reasons why should be understandable to any generation.  

3 Feb 2008 @ 15:46 by jerryvest : Quity, I like your posts and logs and
am feeling much like you about my vote. My wife and I are eager to see a new face in our Administration and on tv. I believe that other leaders in our world, especially our enemies, and that is about everyone, will wish to listen to Barack as well.  

3 Feb 2008 @ 16:50 by Quinty @ : Yes,
Barack has dignity. A stark contrast to what we have seen at countless news conferences for the past seven years. Some may say this quality is minor in a president. Well, if smirking and smiling at death or even violently beating your chest for more death and destruction (the way McCain did last night) is a promising begining then we are surely up the creek.

I think you're right. I know you're right since signs of optimism and hope about Obama in foreign parts have already made the news......  

3 Feb 2008 @ 16:53 by vaxen : Quinty san...
I was going to post a piece here for your edification about how your boy Obama Rama was winning (Thanks Diebold) in many States, the - ah - "dignified one - but, on second thought, the Delphi Technique obviously has you by the proverbial 'balls.' So be it, then...

With your world going to Hellja in a handbasket you wish to mince words? No problem...

Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech: Which is the Right of every Man, as far as by it he does not hurt and controul the Right of another; and this is the only Check which it ought to suffer, the only Bounds which it ought to know.

— Cato’s Letters No. 15 [February 4, 1720]

The Future of Freedom Foundation invites you to attend

Restoring the Republic 2008:
Foreign Policy & Civil Liberties:

Andrew J. Bacevich · James Bovard · Alexander Cockburn · Bruce Fein · Bart Frazier
Glenn Greenwald · Anthony Gregory · Gene Healy · Robert Higgs · Jacob G. Hornberger · Stephen Kinzer
Karen Kwiatkowski · Joseph Margulies · Joanne Mariner · Justin Raimondo
Sheldon Richman · Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. · Jonathan Turley · Laurence M. Vance
June 6-8, 2008
Hyatt Regency Reston
1800 Presidents Street Reston, VA 20190 — (800) 233-1234

The conference runs from Friday morning through Sunday evening.
Plan to arrive at the Hyatt Regency Reston Thursday evening with a departure Monday morning.


The New Crime of Thinking
by Gary D. Barnett
Future of Freedom Foundation

Don't Even Think About It
by James Ridgeway and
Jean Casella


Tortured Testimony
Washington Post

Mukasey's Radical Worldview
Is Now the Norm
by Glenn Greenwald
Mother Jones


Our State Collects More Data than the Stasi Ever Did.
We Need to Fight Back
by Timothy Garton Ash
The Guardian


It should be noted that those Nations who have dared to decouple the US
Dollar from their oil trade, Iraq, Iran, Russia and Venezuela, have come
under withering attacks from the Americans, and their Western Allies;
none worse than the Iraqis who are reported to have suffered over 1
million deaths since being invaded by the US in 2003.

But, as these reports state, the ‘worst nightmare’ of the Americans
appeared to be coming true this past week when their Saudi Arabian
allies were reported to have begun the decoupling of the US Dollar from
their oil trade with the intention of replacing the rapidly declining
American currency with the European Euro.

American War Leaders, though, have had previous warnings of the Saudis
growing fears of being the holders of trillions of declining US Dollars
with Saudi Arabia, for the first time, refusing to drop their interest
rates in ‘lock-step’ with the US Federal Reserve, and leading to fears
of a ‘stampede’ by other Middle Eastern Nations out of US Dollar backed

Under such a threat, and with the Saudi King growing closer to Iran’s
President Ahmadinejad [both pictured top left 2nd photo], Russian
Military Analysts state in these reports that the United States invoked
one of their so called ‘nuclear options’ by severing the three major
undersea cables connecting the Middle East’s major banking centers to
their Western, and Global, counterparts.

The significance to the severing of these cables is the Middle East
Banking Centers being denied access to the Society for Worldwide
Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), based in Brussels and
which carries up to 12.7 million messages a day containing instructions
on many of the International transfers of money between banks, lies in
Saudi Arabia, or any other Middle East Nation, being unable to change
their previously, before loss of communication, encoded currency
instructions from being changed.

Moscow’s actions against the West, in the severing by the United States
of these cables, was swift as President Putin ordered Russian Air Force
Fighters and Bombers to take immediate action to protect the Russian
Nations vital undersea cables in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

To some of the Russian Air Force assets used we can read as reported by
the Reuters News Service article titled "Russia sends bombers, fighters
to Atlantic, Arctic", and which says:

"Air force pilots will carry out practice in the areas involving
reconnaissance, missile-bombing attacks on a navy attack force of a
hypothetical enemy, air-to-air combat and refuelling and patrolling," an
air force spokesman said. The bomber group included two Tupolev Tu-160
strategic bombers, codenamed "Blackjack" by NATO, two turbo-prop Tu-95
"Bear" strategic bombers, and eight Tu-22 "Blinder" bombers. MiG-31 and
Su-27 fighters were also sent to the region."  

3 Feb 2008 @ 20:39 by celestial : My take on it
For what it's worth (about two cents).

America is headed for a black man as president and a white woman as vice president; that's about as integrated as it can possibly be!

As far as the U.S.A. cutting under sea cables, that is yet another act of war; the day of reckoning for America is approaching rapidly.  

3 Feb 2008 @ 21:18 by Quinty @ : Stranger
thiings have happened.

Obama shouldn't be anywhere in this race. Hillary had it sewn up.

Though I would prefer not to see another Clinton in the White House. And would Bill be coming over, bugging Obama?

My guess is that Edwards is waiting to see who comes out on top before backing anyone. That he wants to continue to be a player, and he won't antagonize the winner by having opposed him or her at one point in the race. This is pure conjecture and perhaps unfair to Edwards. But if he backs the apparent winner then there may be something to this idea.

Stranger things have happened.  

4 Feb 2008 @ 00:19 by Quinty @ : Toni Morrison
backs Obama.....

{link:|New York Times}

“This is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril...”

There those who mock Barack's “transcendence.” But Morrison, an artist, can relate, which she has in her endorsement. She can see that he sees. For there are many similarities.

It may all sound like mumbo jumbo but if anyone believes in the transcendence of art and philosophy then he or she should pause.

Yes, if Barack is not the real thing we are in for a crash. A spectacular crash, one only the Devil could have organized, grinning.

And, of course, there is the question of experience. But who can be fully experienced and prepared to be the President of the United States? Lincoln, after all, served only one two year term in Congress.  

4 Feb 2008 @ 01:18 by vaxen : Fascism...
is fascism regardless of the colors of it's face. It doesn't matter which one of these boobs wins the fixed race. Those who pull their strings will continue on with the charade of American Democracy and the American people can rot, and will, but they'll foot the 'bill.'

The Traitors in the White House will continue selling State Secrets and torturing those who disagree with their criminal actions. There is no opposition to this madness yet in view and the dish will run away with the what?  

4 Feb 2008 @ 03:13 by vaxen : Appropos...
of nothing we don't know about these two imposters (poseurs)...and a bit more.

Hillary Clinton Again Lies about Iraq

By Stephen Zunes

In Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton lied again about Iraq.

Hot Democratic Properties

By Alexander Cockburn

From Hillary's Whitewater Deal to Bill's Uranium Mine to Obama's Ba'athist Ties.

Hacking Democracy


This documentary exposes the vulnerability of computers - which count approximately 80% of America's votes in county, state and federal elections - suggesting that if our votes aren't safe, then our democracy isn't safe either.

Middle East Internet Blackouts Spur Geopolitical Suspicions :

Unprecedented mass Internet outages throughout the Middle East and Asia after no less than four undersea Internet cables were cut without explanation are spurring suspicions that a major event of geopolitical proportions may be just around the corner.


Ships did not cause Internet cable damage:

Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt's communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.

4 Feb 2008 @ 04:50 by mortimer : I Refuse To Vote
I only have somewhat solid understand of philosophy, not gov. or law and certainly not understand war or politics.

I do take my responsibility serous; and my Voting would only further fuel and support a corrupt system (American Incorporated) that is doomed to fail.

The Western World View (colonial) is inherent in design to fail. Dot period.

I Refuse To Vote  

4 Feb 2008 @ 19:54 by celestial : Vax,
Fascism doesn't know're quite right but the masses don't and the big thing is integration. I've noticed local news broadcasts have a black man with a white woman on the screen and it's a media thing to subliminally mix the races. Martin Luther King was executed (from on high) because he said "Mix the blood, mix the blood, mix the blood."

In George Bush's first run for president, he used to end his ads with "I'm George Bush and I approved this message." It is understood that he approved it or it wouldn't be on the air waves. Ever since then, a lot of other politicians have followed his example. When I hear ANY of them say that, I will not vote for them; I figure they're in the same camp with Bush!

Too bad for the public we did not figure it out that when the kid got in the white house that it was a rigged deal; now, there's "NO WAY OUT." Ever see that movie?  

5 Feb 2008 @ 05:24 by vaxen : No...
I haven't seen that movie, celestial. The MSM is full of subliminal messages and the so called candidates are just so much packaged meat. Eventually the 'Nation State' must die. Not Hillary, not Obama, none of these tools, in short, are other than useful idiots in a dirty game rigged long ago, try 1913 with the establishment of the Federal Reserve Act when Americans becasme debt slaves to a new financial order hell bent on bankrupting everyone and stealing their very souls.

The fools in governments worldwide know that their time is limited and that people world over are waking up thus new draconian laws are being cranked out every day by those who think they own us! AS for MLK? He should have stood up for individual sovereignty not 14th Amendment indentured servitude. I've heard a lot of reasons why he was taken out but, in my opinion, that's the real one and I'd look to his own people for the real killers. Not that I supported the man in any way but he was...just a man and in that deserved at least a little respect not the martyrdom of an eidolon.

I would suggest the erection of a whole new system outside the District of Columbia. A One recognising the original Republic and the difference between a Democracy and a Republic and why this nation was founded as a Republic and not a Democracy! The only Democracy in this jaded land is the District of Columbia and the private Corporation calling itself the UNITED STATES which functions there as a legislative democracy but in truth is a totallitarian dictatorship of the other words...a Feudal system of Oppression.

No amount of Obamas will change that. The dumbed down, read mind controlled from cradle to grave, people of America (Whatever that is) will go along with the 'dictates' of the MSM till the day they die. The fourth world war has been going on for sometime now. It is called the 'battle for the minds of men (Inclusive term referencing human kind).' It won't be easy to get free of it but there is a way though I'm told that there is really no time left for the way is a process and we are simply quite out of time. It's too late so...we'll deal with that as best we can. Good luck celestial and thanks for your comment here...  

5 Feb 2008 @ 19:59 by celestial : Vax,
Yes, they're BAIT!

A proverb...The borrower is SERVANT to the lender. The Constitution provides for slavery in the form of indentured servitude. Is it any wonder they want to arrest everyone on something?

"The dumbed down, read mind controlled from cradle to grave, people of America (Whatever that is)" is the population addicted to and mesmerized by the greatest mind control tool ever invented...the TELEVISION (TV). Government and big corporations use Pavlov's Dog principles in their propaganda and advertisements to effectively control the masses. The TV is a mass hypnosis tool. Stop watching it and start thinking!!!

TIME is an intangible commodity; it can be bought and sold. Cost? What ever the market will bear!


18 Feb 2008 @ 18:18 by Quinty @ : Jazzolog

An interesting discussion on this is taking place over at Jazzolog:  

30 Mar 2008 @ 19:54 by quinty : The Reverend
Wright has returned. Not in shame and ignominy, afraid to show his face, but to the standing, cheering ovation of the guests and parishioners at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Sabina in Chicago.

And did its pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, kick Wright out? No, instead he greeted the Reverend Wright with hugs and loving slaps on the back as did the President of Chicago’s School Board, Rufus Williams, and Maya Angelou, whose birthday they were all celebrating.

Watch it here on local TV if you don’t believe me:

For what perhaps most disgusted me about this singular event was that CNN’s newsman, who reported it last night, actually appeared surprised that Jeremiah Wright was greeted in this manner. For the Reverend Wright is supposed to be covered in shame. And no good god fearing American would ever cheer or embrace him.

Perhaps if the TV news weren’t such a shallow superficial hybrid of entertainment and salesmanship some of its newscasters would be a little more worldly? And less likely to believe their own BS?

What an opportunity was lost by Hillary’s distancing herself from the Reverend Wright. If she had gone at least as far as Obama (rather than take her response from the right’s playbook) and had decently asked for understanding then a necessary dialogue on race in America may have begun. And that “newscaster” on CNN may not have been so astonished by Wright’s enthusiastic greeting.

Here’s the story in the Chicago Sun-Times:


And Maya Angelou appeared overjoyed by the Reverend Wright’s arrival too. She’s for Hillary you know, and has been close to the Clintons for many years. She read, if you recall, a poem at Bill Clinton’s first inaugural. She also wrote one for Hillary.....

State Package for Hillary Clinton

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

This is not the first time you have seen Hillary Clinton seemingly at her wits’ end, but she has always risen, always risen, don’t forget she has always risen, much to the dismay of her adversaries and the delight of her friends.

Hillary Clinton will not give up on you and all she asks of you is that you do not give up on her.

There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you’re born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies. Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to be what it can become.

She declares she wants to see more smiles in the family, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. She is the prayer of every woman and man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.

She means to rise.

Don’t give up on Hillary. In fact, if you help her to rise, you will rise with her and help her make this country the wonderful, wonderful place where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety and without crippling fear.

Rise, Hillary.


18 May 2008 @ 18:57 by Quinty @ : Gore Vidal on the race

I always thought Vidal was critical of the Clintons. But who can disagree with him on his assesment of Bush and the Neocons? Here he is in the London Times...

From The Sunday Times
May 18, 2008

I knew JFK, says Gore Vidal, and believe me Obama’s the better leader

Gore Vidal, the writer and long-time Clinton supporter, tells why Hillary is insane to keep on fighting
Melvyn Bragg

At 82, Gore Vidal has reached an enviable position: he is an influential man of letters, a political activist, a scion of the New World aristocracy and a friend of the powerful and famous, including the Clintons.

So what does he think of Hillary Clinton’s stated intention to fight on to the bitter end for the Democratic presidential nomination? The reply is instant and searing: “I think her strategy is more or less insane.”

He continues: “I’d always rather liked her. She’s a perfectly able lawyer . . . But this long campaign, this daily search for the grail, has driven her crazy.”

In his view Barack Obama has won; and if the nomination is taken away from him, “I fear what our black population might do. There has never been a revolution of blacks – yet”.

During the Clinton administration, Vidal admired Bill’s understanding of the poor and of black people. His devotion to the Clintons has now been laid aside, however. By clinging on to her campaign, waiting for the small chance that Obama will make a terminal mistake, Hillary has crossed a line, he believes.

As for Obama, Vidal has taken time to warm to him. “I liked the idea of him, but he never managed to get my interest. I was brought around by his overall intelligence – specifically when he did his speech on race and religion.”

In Vidal’s opinion, “he’s our best demagogue since Huey Long or Martin Luther King”.

I ask if he thinks Obama has a similar charisma to that of John F Kennedy, whom Vidal got to know because he was related to his wife, Jackie.

“I never believed in Jack’s charisma,” Vidal says shortly. JFK, he believes, was “one of our worst presidents”; Bobby, his brother, was “a phoney, a little Torquemada”; and their father, Joseph, was “a crook – should have been in jail”.

So much for Camelot. “But Jack had great charm,” he adds. “So has Obama. He’s better educated than Jack. And he’s been a working senator. Jack never went to the office – he wanted the presidency and his father bought it for him.”

There’s no guarantee, of course, that the Democrats will triumph later this year, even if Obama does win the nomination. Does he think Obama can beat John McCain?

His views on the man the Democratic candidate will have to beat are even more brutal than his views on Hillary: “ You could beat McCain! I’ve never met anyone in America who has the slightest respect for him. He went to a private school and came bottom of his class. He smashed up his aeroplane and became a prisoner of war, which he is trying to parlay into ‘war hero’.”

In his view, McCain is “a goddamned fool. He was on television talking about mortgages, and it was quite clear he does not know what a mortgage is. His head rattles as he walks”.

However, in Vidal’s eyes, McCain is just a symptom of the real malaise affecting America today: the cynical subversion of the US constitution. “The Bush people”, he says, “have virtually got rid of Magna Carta and habeas corpus. In a normal republic I would probably have raised an army and overthrown them. It will take a hundred years to put it all back.”

By now he has worked himself up to a crisp fury: “Those neocons, lawyers, the big corporations – worse than that, extremists – want to get rid of the great power of oversight of the executive. See what they’ll try to do to Obama. They’re crooks. They’re just gangsters. They are the enemy of the United States. There’s no such thing as a war on terrorism. It’s idiotic. There are slogans. It’s advertising, which is the only art form we’ve invented and developed. It’s lies.”

Vidal has never been less than fully engaged with the politics of his country – but he seems angrier than I have ever seen him before. This may be because he has returned to live in the States only recently, after spending more than 30 years in Italy. He seems revived and refreshed by his furious reengagement with American politics.

For him, the biggest lie has always been to keep quiet; and the best life-enhancer is to provoke, unsettle, rile – in short, to make people face the truth. He remains a rarity.  

19 May 2008 @ 09:57 by jazzolog : Gore On The Kennedys
I was of mixed opinion about John Kennedy. I saw him in person once, and I understood the charisma thing. But I spent what there was of his presidency largely in opposition. I liked the cultural stuff and that he had poets in the White House...but I didn't trust all the Harvard guys, and especially Kissinger---who just began to make an appearance. I was aware of him from my brief time at Harvard. JFK's foreign policy seemed unfocused. It was he who got us embroiled in IndoChina, first assisting the French, and then taking over entirely when they left. Why did we do that? At first our soldiers were called "advisers," but after one got wounded and wanted a Purple Heart, Kennedy decided maybe we needed to really commit to the conflict. Why?

We were still doing nuclear testing, and I remember going to the White House from Bates to protest. It must have been 1961 or something like that. It was a great demonstration, probably sponsored by SANE. Pete Seeger sang and led us from the Washington Monument to the White House. There was a wet snow and we had to slog through slush. Those were the days when we beatniks wore low canvas shoes...full of holes and broken shoestrings. Our feet were miserable and as we picketed, the truth is we were suffering. At that point, a White House spokesman came out. He said the President was inside, sending us greetings and assurance that he was considering our point of view. He also was sending out hot chocolate for everyone, at which moment up pulls a truck to serve us all. That was Kennedy---and that was the side of him I mourned. (Nixon would barricade himself inside against protesters.) Two years later he confronted Khrushchev about missles in Cuba. I just had had my physical, was 1A and knew I'd have to go. That's the part of him again I didn't like.

Bobby's transformation was a total mystery. I knew he and Nixon had worked for McCarthy, and everybody called him "ruthless." I saw him in Washington once, when he was a senator, and I thought he was grandstanding. Maybe that was his motivation to run for president---or maybe John's death changed him. Anyway, I ended up supporting him. Who killed them both?  

19 May 2008 @ 17:39 by Quinty @ : More on the Kennedys

I like JFK a lot more today than I did when he was president. I wasn’t impressed with that Camelot stuff at all. Nor am I today. But my father liked him, much more than I did. (And he knew and met several heads of state.) But I think he may have been attracted by what he perceived as Kennedy's American good nature, something uniquely American, unknown in Europe. And Pablo Casals, a great symbol of protest against the Franco government, performed in the White House. For me that was one of the Kennedys best moments and an excellent argument in their favor.

But JFK could grow. And I believe he put the good of the country above his own personal well being. When's the last time we've seen that? The Cuban missile crisis scared the hell out of him, and coming in as a dedicated fifties cold warrior he began to rethink US policy. I also believe (some close JFK aids argue this too) that he would have seen the folly of Vietnam and would have pulled out, taking the political heat. Something, which we all know, LBJ couldn't stand. Lyndon’s mountainous ego stood in the way of saying he was wrong. Though, unlike Bush (does he even see what he has done?) he at least had the decency to withdraw from running for a second term.

I was for McCarthy. And didn't like Bobby at all at the time, seeing him as an unscrupulous operator. But when you see him talking to that crowd in Indianapolis the night MLK was shot you have to wonder. Something beautiful appeared there, and anyone who ever heard or saw the old newsreels of that impromptu speech would have to be very hard hearted not to be greatly moved. And impressed. Perhaps he too, like his brother, grew? Teddy turned out to be a progressive liberal senator. A far cry from their antecedents and father who didn’t think Hitler was all that bad.

Gore Vidal likes to put down American culture, attributing its only accomplishment as the invention of Saran Wrap. That kind of stuff. When he says advertising is “the only art form we’ve invented and developed” he leaves out Jazz. As well as American architecture. And a rather notable list of extremely great writers. (You can include the Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists and other modernists but much has yet to be sorted out. And I think they really gave themselves much too much importance.)

I was a little stunned by the characterization of MLK as a demagogue.  

5 Jun 2008 @ 20:13 by Quinty @ : Tom Hayden on Obama

I think Hayden clearly expresses here the hope many of us have for Obama. A hope, true enough, which also existed among Hillary's supporters for Hillary. Though different in that the hope for her candidacy may have been more feminist oriented.

Obama himself constantly tells his audiences that "change" can only come about because they themselves demand it. And then he gives historical examples. He is the leader of a movement. Hopefully - though the program he offers is cautious, center oriented - he will be able to bring this movement to life in order to create genuine progressive change.

McCain's greatest liability is that he represents the past. Not just literally in years, but his vision isn't truly forward looking. And the country wants change. McCain is backed by negative and regressive forces which represent the dark side of American politics and life. Hillary tarnished her image by stooping to old fashioned dirty and reckless tactics in order to win. How much higher she would stand today if only she had run an honest campaign! How millions more Americans would admire her if she had!

Here’s the final paragraph of Hayden’s piece......

"Those who denounce Obama -- and the possibilities of all electoral politics- - should ponder the effectiveness of sitting judgmentally on the sidelines while an Unexpected Future arrives through the sheer will of a new generation. They should consider whether politics and history can be reduced to a fixed determinism that is endlessly repeated, as if there are no surprises. We can have our differences with Obama's specific policies, as I certainly do, but those should be measured against the prospect that a movement might transform him even as his very rise continues to transform the rest of us."

For the full piece:  

12 Jun 2008 @ 15:25 by Quinty @ : Obama's right turn?

Here's a thorough piece by Stephen Zunes on Obama's recent speech at AIPAC. It's long but it probably covers most of the issues involved.

Published on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 by Foreign Policy in Focus

Obama’s Right Turn?
by Stephen Zunes

In many respects, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has played right into the hands of cynics who have long doubted his promises to create a new and more progressive role for the United States in the world. The very morning after the last primaries, in which he finally received a sufficient number of pledged delegates to secure the Democratic presidential nomination and no longer needed to win over voters from the progressive base of his own party, Obama — in a Clinton-style effort at triangulation — gave a major policy speech before the national convention of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Embracing policies which largely backed those of the more hawkish voices concerned with Middle Eastern affairs, he received a standing ovation for his efforts.

His June 3 speech in Washington in many ways constituted a slap in the face of the grass roots peace and human rights activists who have brought him to the cusp of the Democratic presidential nomination.

In other respects, however, he pandered less to this influential lobbying group than many other serious aspirants for national office have historically. And at least part of his speech focused on convincing the largely right-wing audience members to support his positions rather than simply underscoring his agreement with them.

Much of the media attention placed upon his speech centered on the ongoing debate between him and incipient Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Iran. While embracing many of the same double-standards regarding nuclear nonproliferation issues and UN resolutions as does the Bush administration and congressional leaders of both parties, Obama did insert some rationality into the debate regarding the need for negotiations with that regional power rather than maintaining the current U.S. policy of diplomatic isolation and threats of war.

When it came to Israel and Palestine, however, Obama appeared to largely embrace a right-wing perspective which appeared to place all the blame for the ongoing violence and the impasse in the peace process on the Palestinians under occupation rather than the Israelis who are still occupying and colonizing the parts of their country seized by the Israeli army more than 40 years ago.

Progressive Israeli Reactions

While there were some faint glimmers of hope in Obama’s speech for those of us who support Israeli-Palestinian peace, progressive voices in Israel were particularly disappointed.

Israeli analyst Uri Avneri, in an essay entitled “No, I Can’t!”, expressed the bitterness of many Israeli peace activists for “a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning.” Avneri goes on to observe the irony of how Obama’s “dizzying success in the primaries was entirely due to his promise to bring about a change, to put an end to the rotten practices of Washington and to replace the old cynics with a young, brave person who does not compromise his principles. And lo and behold, the very first thing he does after securing the nomination of his party is to compromise his principles.”
Avneri addressed the view of many Israelis that “Obama’s declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people.”

Support for Further Militarization

In his speech, Obama rejected the view that the Middle East already has too many armaments and dismissed pleas by human rights activists that U.S. aid to Israel — like all countries — should be made conditional on adherence to international humanitarian law. Indeed, he further pledged an additional $30 billion of taxpayer-funded military aid to the Israeli government and its occupation forces over the next decade with no strings attached. Rather than accept that strategic parity between potential antagonists is the best way, short of a full peace agreement, to prevent war and to maintain regional security, Obama instead insisted that the United States should enable Israel to maintain its “qualitative military edge.”

Over the past three years, the ratio of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip killed by Israeli forces relative to the number of Israeli civilians in Israel killed by Palestinians is approximately 50 to one and has been even higher more recently. However, Obama chose only to mention the Israeli deaths and condemn Hamas, whose armed wing has been responsible for most of the Israeli casualties, and not a word about the moral culpability of the Israeli government, which Amnesty International and other human rights groups have roundly criticized for launching air strikes into Gaza’s densely crowded refugee camps and related tactics.

Since first running for the U.S. Senate, Obama has routinely condemned Arab attacks against Israeli civilians but has never condemned attacks against Arab civilians by Israelis. This apparent insistence that the lives of Palestinian and Lebanese civilian are somehow less worthy of attention than the lives of Israeli civilians have led to charges of racism on the part of Obama.

Despite his openness to talk with those governing Iran and North Korea, Obama emphasized his opposition to talking to those governing the Gaza Strip, even though Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliament in what was universally acknowledged as a free election. Though a public opinion poll published in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz showed that 64% of the Israeli population support direct negotiations between Israel and Hamas (while only 28% expressed opposition), Obama has chosen to side with the right-wing minority in opposing any such talks. Furthermore, Obama insists that Hamas should have never been even allowed to participate in the Palestinian elections in the first place because of their extremist views, which fail to recognize Israel and acts of terrorism by its armed wing. Yet he has never objected to the Israelis allowing parties such as National Union — which defends attacks on Arab civilians and seeks to destroy any Palestinian national entity, and expel its Arab population — to participate in elections or hold high positions in government.

He insisted that Hamas uphold previous agreements by the Fatah-led Palestine Authority with Israel, but did not insist that Israel uphold its previous agreements with the Palestine Authority, such as withdrawing from lands re-occupied in 2001 in violation of U.S.-guaranteed disengagement agreements.

In reference to Obama’s speech, the anchor to Israel’s Channel 2 News exclaimed that it was “reminiscent of the days of Menachem Begin’s Likud,” referring to the far right-wing Israeli party and its founder, a notorious terrorist from the 1940s who later became prime minister. By contrast, back in February, while still seeking liberal Democratic votes in the primaries, Obama had explicitly rejected the view which, in his words, identifies being pro-Israel with “adopting an unwaveringly pro-Likud view of Israel.” Now that he has secured the nomination, however, he has appeared to have changed his tune.

Endorsing Israel’s Annexation of Jerusalem

Most disturbing was Obama’s apparent support for Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem, the Palestinian-populated sector of the city and surrounding villages that Israel seized along with the rest of the West Bank in June 1967.

The UN Security Council passed a series of resolutions (252, 267, 271, 298, 476 and 478) calling on Israel to rescind its annexation of greater East Jerusalem and to refrain from any unilateral action regarding its final status. Furthermore, due to the city’s unresolved legal status dating from the 1948-49 Israeli war on independence, the international community refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with the United States and other governments maintaining their respective embassies in Tel Aviv.

Despite these longstanding internationally-recognized legal principles, Obama insisted in his speech before AIPAC that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

Given the city’s significance to both populations, any sustainable peace agreement would need to recognize Jerusalem as the capital city for both Israel and Palestine. In addition to its religious significance for both Palestinian Christians and Palestinian Muslims, Jerusalem has long been the most important cultural, commercial, political, and educational center for Palestinians and has the largest Palestinian population of any city in the world. Furthermore, Israel’s annexation of greater East Jerusalem and its planned annexation of surrounding settlement blocs would make a contiguous and economically viable Palestinian state impossible. Such a position, therefore, would necessarily preclude any peace agreement. This raises serious questions as to whether Obama really does support Israeli-Palestinian peace after all.

According to Uri Avneri, Obama’s “declaration about Jerusalem breaks all bounds. It is no exaggeration to call it scandalous.” Furthermore, says this prominent observer of Israeli politics, every Israeli government in recent years has recognized that calls for an undivided Jerusalem “constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to any peace process. It has disappeared — quietly, almost secretly — from the arsenal of official slogans. Only the Israeli (and American-Jewish) Right sticks to it, and for the same reason: to smother at birth any chance for a peace that would necessitate the dismantling of the settlements.”

Obama argued in his speech that the United States should not “force concessions” on Israel, such as rescinding its annexation of Jerusalem, despite the series of UN Security Council resolutions explicitly calling on Israel do to so. While Obama insists that Iran, Syria, and other countries that reject U.S. hegemonic designs in the region should be forced to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, he apparently believes allied governments such as Israel are exempt.
Also disturbing about his statement was a willingness to “force concessions” on the Palestinians by pre-determining the outcome of one of the most sensitive issues in the negotiations. If, as widely interpreted, Obama was recognizing Israel’s illegal annexation of greater East Jerusalem, it appears that the incipient Democratic nominee — like the Bush administration — has shown contempt for the most basic premises of international law, which forbids any country from expanding its borders by force.

However, the Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama campaign, in an attempt to clarify his controversial statement, implied that the presumed Democratic presidential nominee was not actually ruling out Palestinian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem and that “undivided” simply meant that “it’s not going to be divided by barbed wire and checkpoints as it was in 1948-1967.” The campaign also replied to the outcry from his speech by declaring that “Jerusalem is a final status issue, which means it has to be negotiated between the two parties” as part of “an agreement that they both can live with.” This implies that Obama’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel does not necessarily preclude its Arab-populated eastern half becoming the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Israel, however, has shown little willingness to withdraw its administration and occupation forces from greater East Jerusalem voluntarily. Obama’s apparent reluctance to pressure Israel to do so makes it hard to imagine that he is really interested in securing a lasting peace agreement.

It Could Have Been Worse

Perhaps, as his campaign claims, Obama was not rejecting the idea of a shared co-capital of Jerusalem. And perhaps his emphasis on Israeli suffering relative to Palestinian suffering was simply a reflection of the sympathies of the audience he was addressing and was not indicative of anti-Arab racism. If so, the speech could have been a lot worse.

Indeed, Obama’s emphasis on peace, dialogue, and diplomacy is not what the decidedly militaristic audience at AIPAC normally hears from politicians who address them.

Obama did mention, albeit rather hurriedly, a single line about Israeli obligations, stating that Israel could “advance the cause of peace” by taking steps to “ease the freedom of Palestinians, improve economic conditions” and “refrain from building settlements.” This is more than either Hillary Clinton or John McCain was willing to say in their talks before the AIPAC convention. And, unlike the Bush administration, which last year successfully pressured Israel not to resume peace negotiations with Syria, Obama declared that his administration would never “block negotiations when Israel’s leaders decide that they may serve Israeli interests.”

Furthermore, earlier in his career, Obama took a more balanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, aligning himself with positions embraced by the Israeli peace camp and its American supporters. For example, during his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama criticized the Clinton administration for its unconditional support for the occupation and other Israeli policies and called for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He referred to the “cycle of violence” between Israelis and Palestinians, whereas most Democrats were insisting that it was a case of “Palestinian violence and the Israeli response.” He also made statements supporting a peace settlement along the lines of the 2003 Geneva Initiative and similar efforts by Israeli and Palestinian moderates.

Unlike any other major contenders for president this year or the past four election cycles, Obama at least has demonstrated in the recent past a more moderate and balanced perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As president, he may well be better than his AIPAC speech would indicate. Though the power of the “Israel Lobby” is often greatly exaggerated, it may be quite reasonable to suspect that pressure from well-funded right-wing American Zionist constituencies has influenced what Obama believes he can and cannot say. As an African-American whose father came from a Muslim family, he is under even more pressure than most candidates to avoid being labeled as “anti-Israel.”

Ironically, a strong case can be made that the right-wing militaristic policies he may feel forced to defend actually harm Israel’s legitimate long-term security interests.

A Political Necessity?

If indeed Obama took these hard-line positions during his AIPAC speech in order to seem more electable, it may be a serious mistake. Most liberal Democrats who gave blind support to the Israeli government in the 1960s and 1970s now have a far more even-handed view of the conflict, recognizing both Israeli and Palestinian rights and responsibilities. In addition, voters under 40 tend to take a far more critical view of unconditional U.S. support for Israeli policies than those of older generations. There is a clear generational shift among American Jews as well, with younger Jewish voters — although firmly supporting Israel’s right to exist in peace and security — largely opposing unconditional U.S. support for the occupation and colonization of Arab lands. The only major voting group that supports positions espoused by AIPAC are right-wing Christian fundamentalists, who tend to vote Republican anyway.

Furthermore, Obama has been far more dependent on large numbers of small donors from his grassroots base and less on the handful of wealthy donors affiliated with such special interest groups as AIPAC. This speech may have cost him large numbers of these smaller, progressive donors without gaining him much from the small numbers of larger, more conservative donors.

Indeed, there may not be a single policy issue where Obama’s liberal base differs from the candidate more than on Israel/Palestine. Not surprisingly, the Green Party and its likely nominee, former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, along with independent candidate Ralph Nader, are both using this issue to gain support at the expense of Obama.

Only hours after his AIPAC speech, the Nader campaign sent out a strongly worded letter noting how, unlike Obama and McCain, Nader supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements and would change U.S. Middle East policy. The widely-circulated response to the speech makes the case that, in contrast to Obama, “Nader/Gonzalez stands on these issues with the majority of Israelis, Palestinians, Jewish-Americans and Arab Americans.”

Betraying the Jewish Community

Through a combination of deep-seated fear from centuries of anti-Semitic repression, manipulation by the United States and other Western powers, and self-serving actions by some of their own leaders, a right-wing minority of American Jews support influential organizations such as AIPAC to advocate militaristic policies that, while particularly tragic for the Palestinians and Lebanese, are ultimately bad for the United States and Israel as well. Obama’s June 3 speech would have been the perfect time for Obama, while upholding his commitment to Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, to challenge AIPAC’s militarism and national chauvinism more directly. Unfortunately, while showing some independence of thought on Iran, he apparently felt the Palestinians were not as important.

Taking a pro-Israel but anti-occupation position would have demonstrated that Obama was not just another pandering politician and that he recognized that a country’s legitimate security needs were not enhanced by invasion, occupation, colonization and repression.

That truly would have been “change you can believe in.”

Stephen Zunes, a Foreign Policy In Focus senior analyst, serves as a professor of politics and chair of Middle East Studies at the University of San Francisco.

Copyright © 2008, Institute for Policy Studies  

5 Jul 2008 @ 17:32 by Quinty @ : Tom Hayden on Obama now
Here's what Tom Hayden is saying now since Obama has shifted toward the center/right.

No Retreat: If you Want to Win, Stop the War! Barack at Risk
stumble digg reddit news trust
Posted July 4, 2008 | 05:18 PM (EST)
by Tom Hayden

Call him slippery or nuanced, Barack Obama's core position on Iraq has always been more ambiguous than audacious. Now it is catching up with him as his latest remarks are questioned by the Republicans, the mainstream media, and the antiwar movement. He could put his candidacy at risk if his audacity continues to shrivel.

I first endorsed Obama because of the nature of the movement supporting him, not his particular stands on issues. The excitement among African-Americans and young people, the audacity of their hope, still holds the promise of a new era of social activism. The force of their rising expectations, I believe, could pressure a President Obama in a progressive direction and also energize a new wave of social movements.

And of course, there is the need to end the Republican reign that began with a stolen election followed by eight years of war and torture, corporate gouging, environmental decay, domestic spying and right-wing court appointments, just in case we forget who Obama is running against.

Besides the transforming nature of an African-American presidency, the issue that matters most to me is achieving a peaceful settlement of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and preventing American escalations in Iran and Latin America. From the beginning, Obama's symbolic 2002 position on Iraq has been very promising, reinforced again and again by his campaign pledge to "end the war" in 2009.

But that pledge also has been laced with loopholes all along, caveats that the mainstream media and his opponents [excepting Bill Richardson] have ignored or avoided until now. As I pointed out in Ending the War in Iraq [2007], Obama's 2002 speech opposed the coming war with Iraq as "dumb", while avoiding what position he would take once the war was underway. Then he wrote of almost changing his position from anti- to pro-war after a trip to Iraq. He never took as forthright a position as Senator Russ Feingold, among others. Then he adopted the safe, nonpartisan formula of the Baker-Hamilton Study Group, which advocated the withdrawal of combat troops while leaving thousands of American counter-terrorism units, advisers and trainers behind.

That would mean at least 50,000 Americans, including back up forces, engaged in counter-insurgency after the withdrawal of combat troops, a contradiction the media and Hillary Clinton failed to explore in the primary debates. To his credit, Obama said that these American units would not become caught up in a lengthy sectarian civil war, leaving the question of their role unanswered.

The most shocking aspect of Samantha Powers' forced resignation earlier this year was not that she called Hillary Clinton a "monster" off-camera, but that she flatly stated that Obama would review his whole position on Iraq once becoming president. Again, no one in the media or rival campaigns questioned whether this assertion by Powers was true. Since Obama credited Powers with helping for months in writing his book, The Audacity of Hope, her comments on his inner thinking should have been pounced upon by the pundits.

Finally, it has taken the pressure of the general election to raise questions about whether his parsed and lawyerly language is empty of credible meaning. Consider carefully his July 4 statements:

The first one, promising a "thorough reassessment" of his Iraq position later this summer:

"I've always said that the pace of our withdrawal would be dictated by the safety and security of our troops and the need to maintain stability" -- two conditions that could justify leaving American troops in combat indefinitely. "And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I'm sure I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies" -- another loophole which could allow the war to drag on.

Then there came the later "clarification":

"Let me be as clear as I can be" [not, "let me be absolutely clear"].

"I intend to end this war." [intention only].

"My first day in office I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in, and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war -- responsibly, deliberately, but decisively." [ Sounds positive, but "decisively" can mean by military threat in the worst case. And it's pure theatre, borrowed from Clinton, since the plans most likely will be drafted and finalized immediately after the November election.]

"And I have seen no information that contradicts the notion that we can bring our troops out safely at a pace of one or two brigades a month..." [but what if the military commanders on the ground assert that it is too dangerous to pull out those troops?]

Obama's position, which always left a trail of unasked questions, now plants a seed of doubt, justifiably, among the peace bloc of American voters who harbor a legacy of betrayals beginning with Lyndon Johnson's 1064 pledge of "no wider war" through Richard Nixon's "secret plan for peace" to Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal and the deep complicity of Democrats in the evolution of the Iraq War.

It is difficult to understand Obama's motivation. Perhaps it is his lifetime success at straddling positions and disarming potential opponents. Perhaps it is a lawyer's training. Perhaps being surrounded by national security advisers who oppose what they call "precipitous withdrawal", and pragmatic Democrats distinctly uncomfortable with their antiwar roots.

What is clear is that Obama is responsive to pressures from the grass-roots base of a party that is overwhelmingly in favor of a shorter timetable for withdrawal than his, and favoring diplomatic rather than military solutions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At a time that public interest in the war is receeding before economic concerns, it is time for the strongest possible reassertion of voter demands for peace.

The challenge for the peace and justice movement is to avoid falling into Republican divide-and-conquer traps while maintaining a powerful and independent presence in key electoral states, including Congressional battlegrounds, between now and November. There should be at the least:

- A demand that Obama talk to legitimate representatives of the peace movement, not simply hawkish national security advisers.

- A Democratic platform debate and plank that is unequivocal in pledging to end the war and avoid military escalation elsewhere.

- An energized antiwar voter education campaign that builds towards a clear November peace mandate to end the military occupation and shifr to political and diplomatic approraches.

- An organizational strategy to widen the base of the antiwar movement through the presidential campaign in preparation for a massive peace mobilization in early 2009.

Grass-roots people power is the only force that can keep alive the astute sense of pragmatism that led Obama to criticize the coming war in 2002. The stakes are higher now, and the enemies far more shrewd, wishing to rip asunder the Obama coalition. The peace movement assumption should be that there is no one in Obama's inner circle of advisers to be counted on, no mainstream columnist to catch his eye with a persuasive column favoring withdrawal. They never have. Only the voice of the peace voters - and the countless activists who have volunteered on his behalf - can command his attention now.

For more developments and analysis, see 'Progressives for Obama' at


Let's also see how his million and a half donor base reacts?

I suspect many who have given money to the Obama campaign hoped for more than he now promises. And that he may now feel the pinch if too many progressive, hopeful backers stop giving.

If Obama doesn't become more convincing, and more persuasive that he will end the war, then hold back. Don't give.

That's one way of getting their attention.


29 Jan 2015 @ 08:48 by Botsoy @ : CYrrJWzGfpFIfcBzMLI
Obama has no idea what he's going up against chglnenailg the Clinton machine. His unfavorables will soar once Hillary's surrogates get done smearing him .and given that he has yet to face any serious opposition in any of his previous runs for elected office, it's unlikely he'll know how to effectively respond when his back's up against the wall. Obama is definitely a factor in this race, but Hillary is still the frontrunner, much as it pains me to say it. John Edwards has some built-in advantages, but I suspect the immigration issue will be his achille's heel. Edwards will be walking a tightrope right away as he tries to simultaneously court favor from the industrial unions that dominate Iowa's caucuses and the service unions that dominate Nevada's caucuses. The latter demographic wants lawless immigration policy the former does not. And even if Edwards threads that needle, he has a broader immigration problem in that his likely support for comprehensive immigration reform directly conflicts with his primary campaign theme of reducing domestic poverty. If comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality, poverty in America will increase .and increase substantially. Edwards will have a big problem trying to talk his way out of that double-edged sword.While there is tremendous (and legitimate) worry among Democratic voters that Hillary is unelectable nationally, her well-oiled machinery is likely to be as ruthless as George Bush's was in 2000, all but guaranteeing her the nomination and crushing any obstacle that stands in her way. I'm already convinced that Obama will be on the receiving end of the same hit job that John McCain was in 2000, only at the hands of Hillary. However, the bloodthirsty spectacle that BushRove got away with in 2000 will not be as successful for Hillary, further staining her hands.But barring a Giuliani nomination on the Republican side that would ensure a third-party challenge from the right and put every Southern state on the table, Hillary and Obama would both be defeated in November 2008. If the Republican nominee is Romney, McCain, or any number of second or third-tier GOP contenders, I can't see a single red state from 2004 turning blue. Iowa or Colorado could conceivably tip blue for Obama (though it wouldn't be enough for him to win), but neither of them would tip for Hillary. Both candidates would likely lose a couple of blue states to either McCain or Romney.As for the GOP field, I think their safest bet, based on my limited knowledge of his political profile, is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. With George Allen and Bill Frist out of the way, he's the only Republican in the race who seems capable of averting the GOP civil war, bridging the chasm between the values voters and the robber barons. Gingrich and Brownback would be too scary to the Greenwich, Connecticut, crowd and the party's campaign coffers would suffer for it. If I was a Republican activist, I'd be looking pretty seriously at Huckabee right now.  

29 Jan 2015 @ 15:28 by Genesis @ : UOffDILsdWeih
I wonder If the inarnetl Demacratic showdown is going to be between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, the Democrats are going to lose out either way. It is going to be portrayed as what the Democrats consider to be more powerful in terms of voter attraction: the chance to send the first African American into Presidency or the chance to send the first woman into Presidency. In other words, if things come down to a Clinton vs Obama fight, the Democrats can take their pick whether to alienate women voters or black voters.If, on the other hand, the Republican party wanted to join a nice little socio-political experiment, how about sending in, say, a Latina to run for President?But jokes aside, what is your take? Is this gender vs race thing even gonna be made an issue? Or is it one already?J.  

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