Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Israel, the US and Propaganda’s Power

April 16, 2010

Consortiumnews.org, April 14, 2010

By Robert Parry

Sometimes, it seems like there are only two groups on earth that don’t grasp the importance of media – the American Left and some tribe in Borneo, though the word is that the tribe may have just bought a radio transmitter, leaving only one group that doesn’t get it.

Share this article
ShareThis
emailEmail
printPrinter friendly

Indeed, part of the reason for the dangerous media imbalance in the United States – tilted heavily to the Right, especially in cable TV and talk radio – is that the American Left has made media a very low priority, underfunding or closing down its own outlets even as the Right poured billions and billions of dollars into a vast media infrastructure.

Yet, even as the Left has undervalued media, two other groups may be overestimating its power to control public perceptions and thus may be failing to adjust to new realities. Those two groups are the U.S. Republican Party and Israel’s Likud government.

Both appear to be holding onto past recipes for success, relying on the ability of friendly media to manipulate public opinion even as the ground shifts under them. But perhaps no one should blame them, since it makes sense to keep doing what works at least until it doesn’t work anymore.

Continues >>

Hollow Victory

November 7, 2009

According to the Republicans, the United States is once again at the crossroads of losing another critical war because of feckless Democrats. Only this time it’s Afghanistan.

John Mearsheimer, FP, November 2, 2009

The conventional wisdom among most Republicans is that while the United States had serious difficulty in Vietnam during the early years, by the early 1970s things were turning around, and victory was on the verge. Unfortunately, the craven Democrats in Congress bowed to widespread anti-war sentiment and forced the Ford administration to end almost all support to South Vietnam, allowing the North Vietnamese to win the war in 1975. In the GOP version of the story, this decision was a disastrous mistake.

Continues >>

 

Senate Passes $106 Billion War Funding Bill

June 19, 2009

Despite Predictions, Opposition Never Materialized

by Jason Ditz,  Antiwar.com, June 18, 2009

Despite predictions that the “emergency” war funding bill would face a battle in the Senate similar to the one it saw in the House of Representatives, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill with no new alterations, at a vote of 91-5.

Sen. Gregg with President Obama

Earlier in the week the House of Representative passed the bill 226-202, and that was only after weeks of haranguing Democratic Congressmen who opposed the bill to change their vote in the name of loyalty to President Obama. Even then, many expressed dissatisfaction with the bill.

Not so in the Senate, where there was considerable complaining that the bill contained a lot of superfluous funding for things that had nothing to do with the war but the only serious challenge came when Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) tried to strip a $1 billion provision. When that failed, what remained of the opposition seemed to dry up entirely. The five no votes included 3 Republicans, Sens. DeMint, Enzi and Coburn, Independent Sen. Sanders, and Democratic Sen. Feingold.

That $1 billion was set aside for a “cash for clunkers” program to subsidize the purchase of new cars. The measure was unsurprisingly praised by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. Other complaints, including the massive loan guarantee to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been expected to be a major issue, as it was in the House of Representatives, but at the end of the day it doesn’t appear to have cost the bill any votes.

Endless War

March 5, 2009

by Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report, March 4, 2009

Why are more Republicans happy with Obama’s policies on government secrecy, wiretapping, non-withdrawal from Iraq, unqualified support for Israel and a host of other policies than most of the Democratic party’s own base?

What do they know that many of us don’t, or perhaps do not wish to know?
“There will still be American troops in Iraq, up to 50,000 of them.”

If John McCain and other Republicans are happy about an Obama administration initiative and Democrats are not, it is safe to say that something very bad is taking place. That something is Obama’s announcement that he will continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely.

Of course, the president didn’t actually use any of those words. In a speech delivered at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, President Obama announced, “…by August 31, 2010 our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

As always, the president chose his words very carefully. The parsing was so clever that it fooled many people into celebrating when there is no reason for joy. There will still be American troops in Iraq, up to 50,000 of them. “As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.”

It isn’t clear how “conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions” will not be considered combat. Congressman Dennis Kucinich pointed out the obvious problem with the president’s words. “You cannot leave combat troops in a foreign country to conduct combat operations and call it the end of the war. You can’t be in and out at the same time.”

“Obama never expressed any intention of fully withdrawing from Iraq.”

Obama’s one time political rival, Republican senator John McCain, was extremely pleased with the president’s timetable and with the level of troop commitment. “I believe that the administration should aim to keep the full complement – 50,000, as briefed by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen – and not succumb to pressures, political or otherwise, to make deeper or faster cuts in our force levels.” While McCain and other Republicans waxed enthusiastically, Congressional Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, who are not known for progressive politics, expressed concern about the number of troops scheduled to remain in Iraq.

While Democrats openly questioned the president’s policy, Republicans were enthusiastic supporters. During the presidential campaign John McCain was excoriated by Democrats when he said the United States should continue its presence in Iraq for 100 years. It was easy to sneer at the hapless McCain, but the Obama plan could lead to an American presence that may not last 100 years, but for a very long time nonetheless. The snickering directed at McCain should also have been directed at Obama, who never expressed any intention of fully withdrawing from Iraq.

His statement at Camp Lejeune was a repetition of his words on the stump as a presidential candidate. He reminded his foolishly smitten yet now disappointed supporters that he was an anti-war candidate only in their dreams. “Well, what I would say that is that they maybe weren’t paying attention to what I said during the campaign.”

The damage done by the complete capitulation of many progressives to Obama is now bearing fruit. He is able to dismiss them and his own party without suffering any political damage. He said as much in a PBS interview with Jim Lehrer.

JIM LEHRER: You’re not the least bit uneasy over the fact as John McCain and John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House, have praised your plan while the Democrats are criticizing it?

BARACK OBAMA: You know, I don’t – I don’t make these decisions based on polls or popularity. I make the decisions based on what I think is best.

In other words, the Democrats can go to hell. He doesn’t care what they think. He doesn’t have to care what they think because they gave him carte blanche to say and do anything he wanted during the campaign. McCain and Boehner are now his cheerleaders and Democrats have to be happy with whatever their leader deems to be acceptable.
“Many more will die in the name of fighting terror.”

Dennis Kucinich, among those who can be ignored, made another important point about the Obama plan. “We must bring a conclusion to this sorry chapter in American history where war was waged under false pretense against an innocent people. Taking troops out of Iraq should not mean more troops available for deployment in other operations.”

The other operation is of course in Afghanistan, where an additional 17,000 troops are headed. Afghanistan is also under occupation, its civilian population is the target of U.S. military action that has killed thousands of human beings. Many more will die in the name of fighting terror, and to benefit the same corporations that will turn their country into another cash cow for war profiteers.

Barack Obama proves that there is only one political party in this country when foreign policy decisions are being made. George W. Bush may no longer be in the White House, but because of capitulation to the Obama administration, his grand plan for endless war will be a reality for a very long time to come.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.

Bush’s Follies Will Destroy Obama If He Lets Them

November 28, 2008
Truthdig, Nov 25, 2008
USAF / Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers

By William Pfaff

One might think that if Barack Obama believes he can make a success of his new administration by largely reconstituting the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton included, he should know better than to take on the reckless ambitions and commitments of the George W. Bush administration as well: the government that gave America the Mideast and Asian crises, blunders and humiliations of the past 6 1/2 years.

The world has witnessed a futile, destructive and illegal American invasion of Iraq, a war conducted on false pretenses, supposedly against terrorists, accompanied by worldwide actions that have made American policy in Bush’s “global war on terror” seem to many Muslims an attack on Islamic society itself.

Obama is now taking on the quasi-impossible tasks of bringing to a successful and responsible conclusion the Bush government’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as what shows signs of becoming another military intervention of grave and unforeseeable consequences in Pakistan. He is doing so without challenging the assumptions and goals of Bush administration policy.

It has been the mindset of the Bush administration—and, unfortunately, of much of the neoconservative-influenced foreign policy establishment in Washington—that international society’s problems are reducible to wars that American armies will win. They are wrong on both counts. But some still argue that this is the way to a better and more democratic world.

Obama has no choice but to accept responsibility for these American crises. But why should he accept them on the distorted and even hysterical terms by which the Bush administration has defined world affairs since 2001?

Iraq has been a victim of the United States. Washington had no legal or moral justification for invading the country and destroying its infrastructure, killing an uncounted number of Iraqis and displacing half a million or more to ruined lives while setting off the sectarian conflicts that have wracked the country since 2003.

There is a heavy American responsibility to do no more harm, however well-intentioned. The present volatile situation in the country is for the moment a largely political shoving match between the divided and possibly ephemeral Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his rivals, who include the Shiite radicals of Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Sunni, and largely ex-Baathist, Awakening Movement, sponsored by the U.S. Army to defend Sunni tribal regions against the foreigners of the fundamentalist al-Qaida. In addition, are the two Kurdish movements that together control, and plan to make independent and permanent, a Kurdistan nation incorporating—if they have their way—the oil-rich Kirkuk region.

One can make the political—and moral—argument that as the American invasion is responsible for the Iraqi upheaval, Washington should somehow settle it. The answer is that it’s impossible for Americans to do so. The U.S. cannot do it by continued military occupation and intervention in the country’s affairs.

Only the Iraqis themselves can settle this, and doing so may entail even more religious and ethnic struggle. The neighboring Shiite great power, Iran, will play its cards in the country. The Saudis will play theirs. Israel will do everything in its power to prevent an American withdrawal. All of this will probably add still more tragedies to those of the last six years, but at least the U.S. responsibility will have become only indirect, which is bad enough.

Barack Obama started off his presidential campaign by saying that he would get American troops out of Iraq by mid-2010. That was a strong, simple position that, if resolutely carried out, would make it clear to the Iraqis what they have to do to save themselves, and how long they have in which to do it.

Since the early campaign, the president-elect has been forced to qualify his position, weaken it, blur it, say that actually many U.S. troops probably will stay on, the dates may change, American involvement will continue, and so on. He has been forced back toward the Washington consensus opinion, the centrist and “responsible” position, close to the Bush opinion.

Nearly everyone is against his sticking to his original policy: The Iraq factions all plan to exploit American ambiguities to strengthen their own positions and maneuver the American command to favor them. The Kurds want time to make their proto-Kurdistan even more impregnable (while encouraging their reluctance to deal with Turkish and Iranian hostility to a sovereign Kurdistan, as well as deal realistically with their fellow Iraqis).

In Washington, the Pentagon is against withdrawal on Obama’s terms. It still wants permanent bases in Iraq. It claims Obama’s timetable is logistically impossible. The Republicans will shout “treason” and “betrayal.” American oil companies and the corporations that are already part of the occupation, as well as those that have big ambitions for moving into an American-secured Iraq, will demand that the U.S. stay.

All this must be resisted if Obama is to be his own man. He has to rid himself of George Bush’s folly. He must make Iraq truly independent. If he doesn’t, it could destroy his administration.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at www.williampfaff.com.

© 2008 Tribune Media Services Inc.

Like, Socialism

October 29, 2008

By Hendrik Hertzberg | The New Yorker, Oct 29, 2008

Sometimes, when a political campaign has run out of ideas and senses that the prize is slipping through its fingers, it rolls up a sleeve and plunges an arm, shoulder deep, right down to the bottom of the barrel. The problem for John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the Republican Party is that the bottom was scraped clean long before it dropped out. Back when the polls were nip and tuck and the leaves had not yet begun to turn, Barack Obama had already been accused of betraying the troops, wanting to teach kindergartners all about sex, favoring infanticide, and being a friend of terrorists and terrorism. What was left? The anticlimactic answer came as the long Presidential march of 2008 staggered toward its final week: Senator Obama is a socialist.

“This campaign in the next couple of weeks is about one thing,” Todd Akin, a Republican congressman from Missouri, told a McCain rally outside St. Louis. “It’s a referendum on socialism.” “With all due respect,” Senator George Voinovich, Republican of Ohio, said, “the man is a socialist.” At an airport rally in Roswell, New Mexico, a well-known landing spot for space aliens, Governor Palin warned against Obama’s tax proposals. “Friends,” she said, “now is no time to experiment with socialism.” And McCain, discussing those proposals, agreed that they sounded “a lot like socialism.” There hasn’t been so much talk of socialism in an American election since 1920, when Eugene Victor Debs, candidate of the Socialist Party, made his fifth run for President from a cell in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, where he was serving a ten-year sentence for opposing the First World War. (Debs got a million votes and was freed the following year by the new Republican President, Warren G. Harding, who immediately invited him to the White House for a friendly visit.)

As a buzzword, “socialism” had mostly good connotations in most of the world for most of the twentieth century. That’s why the Nazis called themselves national socialists. That’s why the Bolsheviks called their regime the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, obliging the socialist and social democratic parties of Europe (and America, for what it was worth) to make rescuing the “good name” of socialism one of their central missions. Socialists—one thinks of men like George Orwell, Willy Brandt, and Aneurin Bevan—were among Communism’s most passionate and effective enemies.

The United States is a special case. There is a whole shelf of books on the question of why socialism never became a real mass movement here. For decades, the word served mainly as a cudgel with which conservative Republicans beat liberal Democrats about the head. When Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan accused John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson of socialism for advocating guaranteed health care for the aged and the poor, the implication was that Medicare and Medicaid would presage a Soviet America. Now that Communism has been defunct for nearly twenty years, though, the cry of socialism no longer packs its old punch. “At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives,” McCain said the other day—thereby suggesting that the dystopia he abhors is not some North Korean-style totalitarian ant heap but, rather, the gentle social democracies across the Atlantic, where, in return for higher taxes and without any diminution of civil liberty, people buy themselves excellent public education, anxiety-free health care, and decent public transportation.

The Republican argument of the moment seems to be that the difference between capitalism and socialism corresponds to the difference between a top marginal income-tax rate of 35 per cent and a top marginal income-tax rate of 39.6 per cent. The latter is what it would be under Obama’s proposal, what it was under President Clinton, and, for that matter, what it will be after 2010 if President Bush’s tax cuts expire on schedule. Obama would use some of the added revenue to give a break to pretty much everybody who nets less than a quarter of a million dollars a year. The total tax burden on the private economy would be somewhat lighter than it is now—a bit of elementary Keynesianism that renders doubly untrue the Republican claim that Obama “will raise your taxes.”

On October 12th, in conversation with a voter forever to be known as Joe the Plumber, Obama gave one of his fullest summaries of his tax plan. After explaining how Joe could benefit from it, whether or not he achieves his dream of owning his own plumbing business, Obama added casually, “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” McCain and Palin have been quoting this remark ever since, offering it as prima-facie evidence of Obama’s unsuitability for office. Of course, all taxes are redistributive, in that they redistribute private resources for public purposes. But the federal income tax is (downwardly) redistributive as a matter of principle: however slightly, it softens the inequalities that are inevitable in a market economy, and it reflects the belief that the wealthy have a proportionately greater stake in the material aspects of the social order and, therefore, should give that order proportionately more material support. McCain himself probably shares this belief, and there was a time when he was willing to say so. During the 2000 campaign, on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” a young woman asked him why her father, a doctor, should be “penalized” by being “in a huge tax bracket.” McCain replied that “wealthy people can afford more” and that “the very wealthy, because they can afford tax lawyers and all kinds of loopholes, really don’t pay nearly as much as you think they do.” The exchange continued:

YOUNG WOMAN: Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?. . .

MCCAIN: Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.

For her part, Sarah Palin, who has lately taken to calling Obama “Barack the Wealth Spreader,” seems to be something of a suspect character herself. She is, at the very least, a fellow-traveller of what might be called socialism with an Alaskan face. The state that she governs has no income or sales tax. Instead, it imposes huge levies on the oil companies that lease its oil fields. The proceeds finance the government’s activities and enable it to issue a four-figure annual check to every man, woman, and child in the state. One of the reasons Palin has been a popular governor is that she added an extra twelve hundred dollars to this year’s check, bringing the per-person total to $3,269. A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.

US probe says Palin abused power

October 11, 2008
Al Jazeera, Oct 11, 2008

Palin supporters have claimed that the investigation was politically motivated [AFP]

Sarah Palin, the US Republican vice-presidential candidate, abused her power as Alaska’s governor when she fired the state’s public safety commissioner, a legislative committee has found.

A report to the committee concluded late on Friday that a family grudge was not the sole reason for her firing of Walter Monegan, but said that it likely was a contributing factor.

Palin supporters have called the investigation politically motivated.

The inquiry looked into Palin’s dismissal of Monegan, who said he lost his job because he resisted pressure to fire a state trooper involved in a bitter divorce with the governor’s sister.

Palin says Monegan was fired as part of a legitimate budget dispute.

“I feel vindicated,” Monegan said. “It sounds like they’ve validated my belief and opinions. And that tells me I’m not totally out in left field.”

Stephen Branchflower, who led the investigation, told the bipartisan committee that Palin had violated a state ethics law that prohibits public officials from using their office for personal gain.

Polls ‘down’

Supporters of Palin and John McCain, the Republican party’s presidential nominee, had hoped results from the investigation would not be released until after November’s election.

The investigation began before Palin was selected as the vice-presidential nominee for her party and McCain said he was aware of the controversy when making the choice.

Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan said: “There were concerted efforts by John McCain’s campaign to dissuade this investigation from going forward.

Jordan said the report could prove a disastrous blow for Palin, “especially when you consider polling in the last couple weeks”.

“Her poll rating has gone down … this is not the sort of thing you want coming out just 25 days until the election,” Jordan said.

Republicans, however, cautioned against making too much of the report.

Gary Stevens, a state senator on the investigating committee, said: “I think there are some problems in this report. I would encourage people to be very cautious, to look at this with a jaundiced eye.”

The almost 300-page report did not recommend sanctions against Palin, nor a criminal investigation.

The war they all agree on

September 19, 2008

America’s two ruling parties came together in August to plan the escalation of the U.S. war on Afghanistan.

IN EARLY September, the Pentagon closed its investigation into allegations that U.S. bombs killed 92 Afghan civilians, including as many as 60 children, as they slept peacefully in the village of Nawabad on the night of August 21.

Columnist: Sharon Smith

Sharon Smith Sharon Smith is the author of Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States, a historical account of the American working-class movement, and Women and Socialism, a collection of essays on women’s oppression and the struggle against it. She is also on the board of Haymarket Books.

Despite protests from the UN, human rights organizations and the villagers themselves, Pentagon officials insisted for weeks that only seven civilians had been killed, along with 35 Taliban fighters, during a legitimate military operation aimed at capturing Taliban commander Mullah Sadiq.

Indeed, they claimed that the attack, which included bombardment with a C130 Specter gunship, was a necessary response to heavy fire emanating from a meeting of Taliban leaders in the village.

In its defense, the Pentagon cited evidence from an embedded Fox News correspondent who had substantiated its claims. Unfortunately, that correspondent turned out to be former Marine Lt. Oliver North, who has been known to bend the truth in the past.

North’s military career was cut short after his role was revealed in the Iran-contra scandal in the 1980s. At the time, North admitted to having illegally channeled guns to Iran while funneling the profits to the CIA-backed contra mercenary force fighting to overthrow Nicaragua’s democratically elected Sandinista government–and then lying to Congress about it. In recent years, North has nevertheless cultivated a lucrative broadcasting career at Fox.

U.S. soldiers take up positions in the town of Gangikhel in southeastern Afghanistan  (Sgt. Sean Terry | U.S. Army)U.S. soldiers take up positions in the town of Gangikhel in southeastern Afghanistan (Sgt. Sean Terry | U.S. Army)

Although North assured Fox viewers, “Coalition forces…have not been able to find any evidence that non-combatants were killed in this engagement,” video footage taken on the scene by a local doctor showed scores of dead bodies and destroyed homes, documenting a civilian death toll at Nawabad that is the largest since the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan nearly seven years ago.

Thus, the U.S. military was forced to reopen its own investigation on September 8, only days after it had exonerated itself. A red-faced official told reporters that “emerging evidence” had convinced the Pentagon to investigate the matter further.

On that same day, Human Rights Watch issued a report that U.S. and NATO forces dropped 362 tons of bombs over Afghanistan during the first seven months of this year; bombings during June and July alone equaled the total during all of 2006.

The rising civilian death toll in Afghanistan rattled even the normally placid New York Times, which argued, “America is fast losing the battle for hearts and minds, and unless the Pentagon comes up with a better strategy, the United States and its allies may well lose the war.”

- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

AS NEWS of the Nawabad massacre unfolded, another atrocity was also gaining media attention, further exposing the gangster state installed and maintained by U.S. forces to run Afghanistan since 2001.

President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.’s handpicked puppet, reportedly pardoned two men convicted of brutally raping a woman in the northern province of Samangan in September 2005.

At the time, Mawlawi Islam, the commander of a local militia, was running for a seat in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections. “The commander and three of his fighters came and took my wife out of our home and took her to their house about 200 meters away and, in front of these witnesses, raped her,” the woman’s husband told the Independent.

The couple has a doctor’s report that the rapists cut her private parts with a bayonet during the rape, and then forced her to stagger home without clothes from the waist down.

Mawlawi won a seat in parliament in September 2005, as the U.S. media celebrated the elections as proof that democracy was flourishing in Afghanistan thanks to U.S. occupation. But Mawlawi was assassinated, mafia-style in January of this year.

His past had caught up with him. Mawlawi had first fought as a mujahideen commander in the 1980s, but switched sides to become a Taliban governor in the 1990s. He switched sides yet again when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and re-joined the former mujahideen, which had morphed into the Northern Alliance–the group of warlords installed by the U.S. to run Afghanistan as a collection of private gangster fiefdoms.

Karzai issued a press statement expressing his “deep regret” in response to Mawlawi’s death in January. Bypassing the rape charge, he expressed nothing but praise: “Mawlawi Islam Muhammadi was a prominent jihadi figure who has made great sacrifices during the years of jihad against the Soviet invasion.”

Mawlawi’s three subordinates were finally convicted for the rape this year, and one died in prison. But although they were sentenced to 11 years, Karzai reportedly issued a pardon for the other two in May, claiming the men “had been forced to confess their crimes.”

The drug-running warlords who have controlled Afghanistan since 2001 have no interest in either democracy or women’s rights. Indeed, it is not uncommon for poor poppy farmers who cannot repay loans to local warlords to offer up their daughters for marriage instead.

Gang rapes and violence against women are on the rise, according to human rights organizations. As a member of parliament, Mir Ahmad Joyenda, told the Independent, “The commanders, the war criminals, still have armed groups. They’re in the government. Karzai, the Americans, the British sit down with them. They have impunity. They’ve become very courageous and can do whatever crimes they like.” In this situation, Afghan warlords again produce 90 percent of the world’s opium, without legal repercussion.

Women’s prisons, in contrast, are teeming once again. As Sonali Kolhatkar, the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords and the Propaganda of Silence, argued on Democracy Now! “Women are being imprisoned in greater numbers than ever before, for the crime of escaping from home or having, quote-unquote, ‘sexual relations’–‘illegal sexual relations.’ Most of these women are simply victims of rape.”

Continued . . .

The F-card won’t wash

September 13, 2008

Sarah Palin is disastrous for women’s rights, no matter how Republicans try to frame her as a feminist

Jessica Valenti | The Guardian, Friday September 12 2008

The New York Post calls her “a feminist dream”. National Public Radio asks if she’s the “new face of feminism”. And the Wall Street Journal, ever subtle, calls it “Sarah Palin Feminism”. I call it well-spun garbage. (Yes, I’d even call it a pig in lipstick.) It seems you can’t open a newspaper or turn on the television without running across a piece about how the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, is not just a feminist, but the feminist – a sign that all is right in the US when it comes to gender equality. (Turn in those Birkenstocks and picket signs, gals!)

Palin’s conservative cohorts are claiming her candidacy as a win for women and proof that it’s Republicans who are the real agents of change. After all, what more could American women want in a vice-presidential candidate than a well-coiffed “hockey mom”?

Never mind that Palin talks about her teen daughter’s decision to keep her child while awaiting the chance to take that choice away from American women. Don’t worry about how Palin cut funding for a transitional home for teenage mothers. And forget that, under Palin’s mayoralty, women in Wasilla, Alaska, were forced to pay for their own rape kits to the tune of up to $1,200.

We’re not supposed to care about these issues because – say Republicans – we should just be happy that there’s a woman on the ticket. The McCain campaign is cynically trying to recreate the excitement that surrounded Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, believing that all women want is … another woman.

Ann Friedman, deputy editor of the American Prospect, wrote: “In picking Palin, Republicans are lending credence to the sexist assumption that women voters are too stupid to investigate or care about the issues, and merely want to vote for someone who looks like them … McCain has turned the idea of the first woman in the White House from a true moment of change to an empty pander.”

What’s worse is conservatives can’t understand why women aren’t lining up to thank them. In fact, the same people who moaned that women – those darn feminists, especially – were only supporting Hillary because of her gender are now screaming to the rafters because they’re not supporting Palin for the same reason. That’s what makes Republicans pulling the feminist card that much more insulting – the stunning hypocrisy. The McCain touting himself as the person who will put a woman in the White House is the same man who joked that Chelsea Clinton is “so ugly” because “her father is Janet Reno”.

And despite the talk about being the party of change, appropriating feminist symbols – such as at a Pennsylvania rally, where people held up signs of Rosie the Riveter with Palin’s face – and propping up anti-feminist women as trailblazers is typical of the Republicans.

Organisations such as the Independent Women’s Forum and Concerned Women for America, who call themselves the “real” feminists while fighting against things such as equal pay and legislation to combat violence against women, have been around (and funded by conservatives) for years. Their brand of feminism means benefiting from the gains of the women’s movement while striving to keep other women down – all for a patriarchal pat on the head. Sound familiar?

As the feminist writer Rebecca Traister says: “Palin’s femininity is one that is recognisable to most women: she’s the kind of broad who speaks on behalf of other broads but appears not to like them very much … It’s like some dystopian future … feminism without any feminists.”

The good news is, this twisted homage to feminism means conservatives must recognise it as a force in American politics – why spend so much time framing Palin as feminist if we’re all just a bunch of hairy man-haters? The bad news, however, trumps all. If this campaign is successful, American women will suffer. We’ll be under the thumb of yet another administration that thinks nothing of rolling back women’s rights.

No matter how many times feminists point out the hypocrisy of Republicans pulling the F-card, however, the bigger truth is that it’s not Palin’s anti-feminist bona fides alone that matter. While Palin is bad for women’s rights, she’s terrible for America. In addition to being investigated by her own legislature for abuse of power, she is also reported to have asked a librarian about the process for banning books in Wasilla, doesn’t support sex education, and has made lying about her record unusually central to her candidacy – even for a politician. These are big warning signs that cut across gender lines.

So while the McCain campaign holds Palin up as a shining example of feminism in action, let’s not forget the truth about who’s doing the spinning and what they’re selling. Because the last thing America needs is another corrupt and lying politician – man or woman.

· Jessica Valenti, founder of the Feministing website, is the author of Full Frontal Feminism

A Palin Theocracy? God, Oil and Guns

September 12, 2008

By MARJORIE COHN | Counterpunch, Sep 11, 2008

John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate has invigorated a lackluster campaign. The media can’t stop talking about her. Given McCain’s age and state of health (his medical file was nearly 1,200 pages long), Palin would indeed be a heartbeat away from becoming President. But what would a Palin administration really look like?

Palin is a radical right-wing fundamentalist Christian who would love to create a theocracy. She believes we are living in the “end times” which will result in a bloody inferno from which only true Christians will be saved. Palin recently attended a service in her Wasilla Bible Church run by David Brickner, who runs Jews for Jesus, a group the Anti-Defamation League criticizes for its “aggressive and deceptive” proselytizing of Jews. Those who don’t accept Jesus as their savior will burn in Hell, according to Palin’s brand of theology.

As Governor of Alaska, Palin asked her congregation to pray for the natural gas pipeline, which she characterized as “God’s will.” She thinks the war in Iraq is a “task that is from God.” Palin has pushed for creationism to be taught in schools, and she opposes stem cell research.

Palin’s choice to have a Down syndrome child and her teenage daughter’s choice to continue her pregnancy have made evangelical Christians ecstatic. But while she chose pregnancy, Palin would deny a woman victimized by rape or incest the right to choose abortion, and then criminally punish both the woman for having one and her doctor for performing it.

McCain would also love to inject a heavy dose of Christianity into his administration. A year ago, he declared, “The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” Just about the only issue on which McCain has not flip-flopped is his opposition to abortion rights. The next president will almost certainly make at least one appointment to the Supreme Court. McCain has pledged to appoint judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito; these would also be Palin’s preferred judges. Another conservative on the Court would mean that Roe v. Wade will be overruled. That will return us to back alley abortions with coat hangers.

Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, said that “this election is not about issues . . . This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.” The Republicans know they will lose if they really focus on issues such as the economy, the war, healthcare, education, and the environment. They are hoping that pro-choice women who supported Hillary Clinton will gravitate to Palin because she’s a feisty – albeit anti-choice – woman. They are also banking on support from people who cannot bring themselves to vote for a black man.

But those non-evangelicals who back the McCain-Palin ticket do so at their peril. Not only will they continue to suffer four more years of the disastrous Bush policies; they will also find themselves living in a Christian theocracy.

Marjorie Cohn is president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. She is author of Cowboy Republic. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com.(The views expressed in this article are solely those of the writer; she is not acting on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild or Thomas Jefferson School of Law)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,654 other followers