Posts Tagged ‘Bob Herbert’

Afghanistan: Worse Than a Nightmare

June 27, 2010

By Bob Herbert, New York Times, June 25, 2010

President Obama can be applauded for his decisiveness in dispatching the chronically insubordinate Stanley McChrystal, but we are still left with a disaster of a war in Afghanistan that cannot be won and that the country as a whole will not support.

Bob Herbert

No one in official Washington is leveling with the public about what is really going on. We hear a lot about counterinsurgency, the latest hot cocktail-hour topic among the BlackBerry-thumbing crowd. But there is no evidence at all that counterinsurgency will work in Afghanistan. It’s not working now. And even if we managed to put all the proper pieces together, the fiercest counterinsurgency advocates in the military will tell you that something on the order of 10 to 15 years of hard effort would be required for this strategy to bear significant fruit.

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Will McCain-Palin Lies Hurt Them?

September 15, 2008

By Robert Parry, Consortium News. Posted September 15, 2008.

Despite all the chatter about how “historic” Campaign 2008 has been, it is the McCain-Palin ticket that it is truly testing the limits, not of race or gender politics, but whether the United States is ready to enter into a new dimension of political lying.

Until two weeks ago, it would have been hard to believe that any political figure would have had the audacity to step into the national spotlight by telling the bald-faced lies that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has. Yet, many Americans have embraced her enthusiastically and don’t want to hear anything negative about her.

Palin’s most obvious lie is one that she has repeated over and over: “I told Congress, ‘thanks but no thanks’ about that Bridge to Nowhere.” Now, however, anyone who has bothered to fact-check this claim knows that Palin supported the bridge until Congress removed the earmark and then she kept the money to use on other state projects.

Palin also presents herself as a “reformer” who can’t stand earmarks or the lobbyists who arrange such wasteful pork-barrel spending — except that she hired Alaska’s top Washington lobbyists to secure millions of dollars in earmarks for her town, Wasilla, and for her state, including sending off a wish list of nearly $200 million just this year.

With the help of the lobbying firm and her annual treks to Washington, Palin secured a stunning $27 million in earmarked funds for Wasilla, a town then with about 6,000 residents. Some of Palin’s projects were considered such prime examples of Washington pork that they were cited in anti-earmark reports compiled by none other than Sen. John McCain earlier this decade.

When ABC’s news anchor Charles Gibson asked Palin about her past support of earmarks and her backing for the Bridge to Nowhere, Palin simply refused to acknowledge that she had made misleading or false claims about herself.

“It has always been an embarrassment that abuses of the ear form — earmark process has been accepted in Congress,” Palin said. “And that’s what John McCain has fought. And that’s what I joined him in fighting.”

But Palin is not alone in simply denying reality. Her partner, John McCain, has shown his own ability to not blush while lying.

On the ABC-TV show “The View,” McCain was confronted with Palin’s contradictory record of arranging earmarks while selling herself as a reformer. McCain simply ignored the facts and declared, “not as governor she didn’t.”

McCain’s Lies

But McCain now has his own long trail of stunning lies, both about his opponent Barack Obama and McCain’s dubious reputation for clean politics. After presiding over a convention notable for its partisan rancor — including endless mocking of Obama as a “community organizer” — McCain said his presidency would be about eliminating “partisan rancor.”

Earlier in the campaign, McCain approved ads accusing Obama of everything from causing $4 a gallon gasoline (a silly charge) to stiffing wounded U.S. troops in Germany by canceling a visit because he couldn’t bring along cameras (a false accusation).

More recently, McCain and his team have blamed Obama for passing a law that would require sex education for kindergarteners and for calling Palin a “pig” when the Democratic nominee criticized McCain’s economic package by saying it was like “putting lipstick on a pig.”

Though McCain himself had applied the common expression to Hillary Clinton’s health-care plan, Obama’s use of the image was ripped from its context and twisted into a “sexist” attack on Palin.

As for the kindergarten sex-education ad, the McCain campaign had contorted Obama’s support for a program that would teach young school children how to avoid sexual predators into providing them “comprehensive sex education.”

When confronted on “The View” about these two dishonest ads, McCain insisted that “actually they are not lies.” He then went on to argue that his own use of the “lipstick on a pig” remark was different because he was talking about Clinton’s health-care plan.

Barbara Walters, one of the program’s co-hosts, challenged this excuse, noting that Obama was speaking about change, not Palin.

McCain’s response was that Obama “chooses his words very carefully,” suggesting apparently that when McCain has used the phrase he doesn’t. McCain added as his defense that harsh things have been said about him, too, and that “this is a tough campaign.”

At the end of McCain campaign ads — including others that have compared Obama to Paris Hilton and distorted his positions on taxes, health care and energy — the voters hear McCain intoning, “I approved this message.”

Continued . . .

Crawling into the gutter

August 5, 2008

John McCain is turning on the slime machine because he and his staff have concluded they can’t win any other way.

John McCain and supporters (Dan Bennett)

YOU’VE SEEN it dozens of times in movies–the crook commits the crime, then turns around and says he saw the guy who done it, and…he went that-away!

Now, it’s John McCain’s latest strategy in the 2008 presidential election–with his claim that Barack Obama was the first to inject the “race card” into the campaign.

No one could really be surprised that John McCain–his high-minded talk aside–would climb down into the sewer. After all, he’s the presidential candidate of the party that spawned Karl Rove. The only question was how much of the dirty work McCain and his campaign staff would do themselves, and how much they’d leave to blowhards like Rush Limbaugh on right-wing hate radio.

But the other factors to recognize in all this are the lack of a tough response from Obama and the Democrats–and the willing connivance of the “impartial” U.S. media in repeating McCain’s veiled and not-so-veiled appeals to racism.

At least New York Times columnist Bob Herbert was frank about what the Republicans are up to:

Spare me any more drivel about the high-mindedness of John McCain. You knew something was up back in March when, in his first ad of the general campaign, Mr. McCain had himself touted as “the American president Americans have been waiting for.”

There was nothing subtle about that attempt to position Senator Obama as the Other, a candidate who might technically be American, but who remained in some sense foreign, not sufficiently patriotic and certainly not one of us–the “us” being the genuine red-white-and-blue Americans who the ad was aimed at.

Emphasis on “red-white-and-blue Americans.”

Last month, Obama was denounced in a McCain ad for allegedly passing up a visit to a military hospital in Germany to meet with wounded soldiers (reportedly, the McCain campaign had another ad in the can to run if Obama made the trip, which would have accused him of exploiting wounded soldiers for a photo op).

The absurdity of the charge came in the footage the Republicans used in their commerical–of Obama sinking a three-point basket…in front of U.S. troops. But even in that choice of imagery, there was more than meets the eye. “Consider this,” wrote John Heilemann in New York magazine. “Would the ad have featured footage of Obama on a golf course draining a hole-in-one? ‘No, it wouldn’t,’ laughs a GOP media savant. ‘The racial angle is the first thing I thought of when I saw that ad. It fits into the celebrity stuff, too.'”

The “celebrity stuff” was spewed into the airwaves last week in the form of another attack ad–using footage of two white women, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, with no conceivable relationship to Obama (in fact, the Hilton family are McCain supporters)–depicting Obama as a shallow fame-seeker.

“The Republican National Committee targeted [Tennessee Democrat] Harold Ford with a similarly disgusting ad in 2006 when Mr. Ford, then a congressman, was running a strong race for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee,” Herbert wrote. “The ad, which the committee described as a parody, showed a scantily clad woman whispering, ‘Harold, call me.'”

Then, to top it off, who gets accused of “injecting” race into the campaign? Obama.

How so? At a campaign appearance in an almost all-white county in Missouri, Obama said, “What they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.”

McCain and the Republicans have been complaining ever since that Obama was playing the “race card”–having done so themselves for their own purposes, while loudly denying they did any such thing.

Continued . . .

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