Posts Tagged ‘John Kerry’

Richard Falk: Whose ‘Two State’ Solution? End game or Intermission?

June 7, 2013

Richard Falk, 6 June, 2013

 From many sources there is a widespread effort to resume a peace process that has in the past led to failure, frustration, and anger, and often to renewed violence. The newly appointed American Secretary of State, John Kerry, is about to make his fifth trip to Israel since the beginning of 2013, insisting that the two sides try once more to seek peace, and warning if this doesn’t happen very soon, the prospects for an agreed upon solution will be postponed not for just a year or two, but for decades. Kerry says if this current effort does not succeed, he will turn his attention elsewhere, and that the United States will make no further effort. So far, aside from logging the air miles, seems perversely to be responsive to Tel Aviv’s demands for land swaps to allow settlement blocs to be incorporated into Israel and to promote further Palestinian concessions in relation to security arrangements, and totally unresponsive to Ramallah’s demands for some tangible signs from the Israeli government that resumed negotiations will not be another slammed door. In this vein, Kerry’s most ardent recent plea was at the Global Forum, an annual event organized under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee. Kerry told this audience that they possessed the influence to make the peace talks happen.

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POLITICS-US: Anti-Obama Echo Chamber in Full Swing

August 21, 2008

By Bill Berkowitz | Inter Press Service

OAKLAND, California, Aug 20 – Right-wing groups are stepping up their campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, with two new books on the best-seller lists, another on the verge of publication, and a full-length documentary that will premiere during the party conventions later this month.

Jerome Corsi, a veteran of the 2004 Swiftboating campaign that helped sink the candidacy of the Democratic Party’s John Kerry, had his book “The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality” debut at No. 1 on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list on Sunday. Aug. 17 — although the list’s editors noted that some bookstores have reported receiving bulk orders.

“The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media’s Favorite Candidate” by David Freddoso is currently ranked at number five. And another Obama-bashing tome, expected sometime next month, is tentatively titled “Obama Unmasked,” and is written by Floyd Brown — the creator of 1988’s infamous Willie Horton television advertisement that helped put the kybosh on the presidential hopes of the Democrat’s Michael Dukakis.

Now, on Aug. 24, the eve of the Democratic Party’s convention in Denver, “Hype: The Obama Effect” — a full-length documentary that attacks everything about the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee — will be premiering at the Regal Pavilions 15 in the host city. The free showing is being sponsored by Citizens United and Chairman Dick Wadhams of the Colorado Republican Committee.

(The Regal Entertainment Group, which own Regal theaters, is the largest motion picture exhibitor in the world — it operates nearly 20 percent of all indoor screens in the U.S. The chain is owned by Philip Anschutz, an oil magnate, media mogul, and long-time contributor to conservative political causes.)

The film, through interviews with a host of Republican Party supporters, criticises Obama’s political positions, mocks the so-called cult of personality that many critics claim embodies his campaign, casts doubts about his judgment, and questions his character.

“While ‘Hype’ may not generate large box office receipts, it is sure to become another prong in the right-wing attack machine,” Mike Reynolds, a longtime investigative reporter covering politics and religion, told IPS. “[Citizens United head David] Bossie might be hopeful that as the campaign moves forward, some right-wing websites might offer the film as a premium as they have for the books.”

“In order to get regular voters to go see the movie, it will have to garner media buzz on the cable television news networks, like the anti-Obama books have,” Reynolds said. “Looking at both the television advertisement for the film and its five-minute trailer, it’s clear that neither Bossie nor Alan Peterson, the film’s director, have chops; they’re no Michael Moore.”

During the 2004 presidential campaign, one of the earliest attacks against the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Senator John Kerry — predating by several months the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth mega-attack on the candidate’s military record — was spearheaded by Floyd Brown’s group, Citizens United, a long-time conservative enterprise.

The ad became one of George W. Bush’s major themes: Based on Mastercard’s famous ad campaign, the spot cataloged the cost of Kerry’s expensive taste in clothes and his ownership of properties worth millions of dollars. It ended with “Another rich liberal elitist from Massachusetts who claims he’s a man of the people? Priceless.”

The goal of the Citizens United advertisement was to make Kerry look like an elitist; a premise that Bush advisor Karl Rove and the campaign of the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, has revived again this year. These days, in addition to the Obama-is-an-elitist message, he is also being defined by McCain as an empty suit — a “celebrity” who is out of touch with regular folks.

In June of this year, Rove — now a roving right-wing commentator with the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal and other mainstream media platforms — pulled the snob card from the deck. Speaking at a country club, Rove likened Obama, to “the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.”

In other words, Obama, the first African American to run for the presidency, is oddly enough being tagged as an elitist who is out of step with the U.S. public.

Bossie, who co-produced “Hype: The Obama Effect”, which was directed and written by Alan Peterson — who also directed “Fahrenhype 9/11,” a response to Michael Moore’s award-winning documentary “Fahrenheit 911” — recognises that the film will likely have a very limited — if any — run in theaters and he intends to market it via mail-order sales on the Citizen United website, and through other DVD outlets.

“Bossie is a political hatchet man whose career is based on smears and attacking Democrats,” John Stauber, the executive director of the Centre for Media and Democracy, told IPS. “His Obama documentary will provide plenty of footage for use on the internet and in commercials, but I doubt that in and of itself that “Hype” will make much difference in the campaign.”

“I assume that the overall theme of Obama as ‘socialist agent disguised as cult hero’ must be resonating in the political marketing surveys of the Bossie-types and the McCain operatives, or they would switch to something more effective,” Stauber added.

“Going back to the days when he was unremitting in his attacks against Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bossie’s forte has never been accuracy,” Reynolds said. “It has been bloodletting. And in that regard, if ‘Hype’ gets any traction at all, it is likely to be viewed as the political counterpart of [the horror movie franchise] Saw V, due to be released just before the election.”

*Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His column “Conservative Watch” documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the U.S. Right.

Hope for audacity: Unless something happens, John McCain will win.

August 15, 2008

by Ted Rall | Smirking Chimp, August 15, 2008

NEW YORK–Unless something happens, John McCain will win.

Of course, “unless something happens” is the biggest qualifier in the world, more than adequate to CYA me should Obama prevail. It’s politics. There are almost three months. Odds are something will happen.

Still, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Obama’s electoral handicaps–his racial identification and short resume–should have easily been eclipsed by Bush’s–er, McCain’s well-stocked aviary of albatrosses. McCain was and remains short of money. His campaign organization is a mess. Republican bosses are unenthusiastic, both about his prospects and about the direction he would take his party should he win. He has aligned himself with the most unpopular aspect of the wildly unpopular outgoing administration, the Iraq War. At a time when economically insecure voters are staring down the barrel of a recession-cum-depression, McCain promises more of the same–no help is on the way. And he’s old. Sooo painfully I-don’t-use-the-Internet old.

What is it that has the politerati betting on a McCain Administration? Historical precedent. During most presidential election years, Republicans tend to surge in the last few months of the campaign. For a Democrat to win in November, he must have a comfortable lead in the polls at this stage in the game.

The classic example is 1976, Jimmy Carter led incumbent Gerald Ford by 33 percentage points. Ford was hobbled by Watergate, a recession, and his pardon of Nixon, as well as his dismal performance in the debates, where he claimed that the Soviet Union wasn’t dominating eastern Europe. Nevertheless, Ford closed the lead, losing to Carter by just two points. This follows the pattern, albeit by a wider margin than in most elections.

In recent years, the countervailing example is the 1992 contest between Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, the incumbent. After the Democratic National Convention in August, Clinton was only ahead of Bush by a few points. Clinton won, but only because independent Ross Perot, a businessman with libertarian leanings, attracted so many votes from registered Republicans.

Perot ran again in 1996, but was less of a factor. So the old pattern reasserted itself. Clinton led Bob Dole by roughly 20 percent in mid-August, but won by eight. Republicans always close the gap.

It happened again in 2000. In mid-August, Al Gore had an eight-point lead ahead of George W. Bush. Gore won the popular vote by 0.6 percent.

If you’re a Democrat, being ahead isn’t enough. In 2004 John Kerry was ahead in mid-August–but by just two points. Bush was an incumbent with potentially grave weaknesses–he hadn’t found Osama or Iraq’s supposed WMDs, and he was already losing the war–yet the pattern reasserted itself. Bush gained four points, prevailing in the popular vote by 2.4 percent. (I won’t comment on the electoral vote, aside from mentioning that it was stolen in the key state of Ohio.)

If Barack Obama ends up beating John McCain, he will have done so with the smallest August lead for a Democrat in memory–three points, within the statistical margin of error for tracking polls. A columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times argues that’s good news: “Out of the gate,” writes Carol Marin, “the thoroughbred who leads too early and by too great a margin is more often than not the vulnerable one, the one in danger of losing it all to the horse who strategically holds back, waits, and then thunders in the final furlongs to finish first.” Nice metaphor, but presidential campaigns aren’t horse races. They’re boxing matches. The last man standing wins.

Unless Obama starts swinging soon, he’s done for. Insiders are tut-tutting over Ohio, an important swing state this year. Given the decade-long recession and voter anger there–not to mention a significant African-American population–Obama ought to be kicking McCain six ways to Sunday. But the two candidates are neck and neck in fundraising. “For McCain to even be competitive is surprising to me,” says Chris Duncan, chairman of the political science department at the University of Dayton. “I don’t think it’s that he’s doing better than expected. I think it’s that Obama is doing worse than he would expect.”

Vincent Hutchings of the University of Michigan wonders if the Obama campaign is counting too much on young voters. “Is he generating enough enthusiasm to excite people who lack a formal education and are disproportionately young, and not likely to vote?” he asks.

As I argued in my 2004 polemic “Wake Up! You’re Liberal: How We Can Take America Back From the Right,” American voters feel besieged. At home, they see prices rising while their salaries get gnawed away by inflation. From a foreign affairs standpoint, they see a world full of terrorists and hostile rivals–Iran, North Korea, Russia, China–out to get them. As a psychologist would say, the fact that there isn’t much truth to this perception doesn’t make it less real.

Americans want their presidents to be a National Daddy–an ornery cuss willing to err on the side of kicking some innocent schlub’s ass to protect them.

Last time around, in 2004, John Kerry repeatedly turned the other jowl as Bush and his proxies pounded him with the now-notorious Swift Boat ads. Of course, whether Kerry’s Vietnam service rose to the level of heroism was debatable. What wasn’t was that Bush weaseled out of going at all. But Kerry never responded. If the guy won’t fight for himself, voters asked themselves, how will he fight for me?

Obama has already traveled too far down the Path of the Kerry, repeatedly voting for funding a war his entire candidacy is predicated upon opposing, not to mention government spying on U.S. citizens and, most recently, the embarrassingly cheesy spectacle of endorsing offshore oil drilling. I mean, really: Do any right-wing conservatives believe he really means any of this stuff?

If he is to make history by salvaging his campaign from its current neck-and-neck status with McCain, Obama will have to rally the Democrats’ liberal base by throwing them some red meat: immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, socialized medicine and a sweeping credit crisis bailout plan (all interest rates legally reset to prime) would be a start. He’ll also need to beat up McCain (fairly) for agreeing with Bush about just about everything–and pledge to hold the Bushies responsible for their crimes.

About author:
Ted Rall is the author of the new book “Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?,” an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America’s next big foreign policy challenge.

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