Posts Tagged ‘John McCain’

Was Israel legitimate at anytime?

April 12, 2010

by Jeff Gates, Foreign Policy Journal, April 11, 2010

The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries as those defrauded marvel at how so few deceived so many for so long. Those duped include many naive Jews who—even now—identify their interests with this extremist enclave.

Israeli leaders are wrong to worry about “de-legitimization.” They are right to fear that a long-deceived public is fast realizing that Israel’s founding was key to an ongoing deception.

The Invention of the Jewish People did not begin with Shlomo Sand’s 2009 bestseller by that title. There was no Exile says this Jewish scholar. Nor was there an Exodus. So how could there be a Return, the core premise of Israeli statehood?

If this patch of Palestinian land never rightly belonged to a mythical Jewish People, what then for the legitimacy of the “Jewish homeland.” And for that depiction by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in his November 1917 letter to Lord Rothschild?

Were Christians likewise seduced by Sunday school teachings reliant on the phony findings of Biblical archeologist William Albright? Shlomo Sand chronicles how in the 1920s Albright interpreted every excavation in Palestine to “reaffirm the Old Testament and thereby the New.”

In 1948, President Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, was advised by Secretary of State George Marshall not to recognize this enclave as a state. This WWII general assured Truman that he would vote against him—and did.

That military tradition resurfaced in January 2010 when General David Petraeus dispatched a team to brief Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the perils that Israel still poses to U.S. national security. Mullen was reportedly shocked.

He should not have been surprised. Such insights are hardly new. More than six decades ago the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautioned Truman about the “fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders” and their plans for “Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East.”

In December 1948, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews urged us “not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.” They warned that a “Leader State” was the goal of the “terrorist party” that has governed Israel over all but a handful of the past 62 years.

The Joint Chiefs foresaw the “Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the U.S.] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives.”

Soon after Truman recognized Israel, his presidential campaign train was “refueled” by Zionist Jews with $400,000 in contributions ($3.6 million in 2010 dollars). Soon thereafter, Israel betrayed the U.S. by allying with the British and the French to invade Egypt.

Though London and Paris soon abandoned the operation, months more were required to dissuade Tel Aviv from pursuing their expansionist agenda then—as now—for Greater Israel.

Outraged by Israeli duplicity, Eisenhower sought help to rein them in.  He soon found that even then (as now) the Israel lobby dominated Congress. Thus the former Supreme Allied Commander appeared on television with an appeal directly to the American people. Then—unlike now—a U.S. Commander in Chief threatened to reduce assistance to Israel.

To revamp Israel’s tattered image, New York public relations expert Edward Gottlieb retained novelist Leon Uris to write Exodus. Jewish Zionists have routinely proven themselves skilled storytellers and masterful mythmakers.

This 1958 bestseller was translated into dozens of languages and quickly made into a movie for the 1960 Christmas season starring Paul Newman and featuring Peter Lawford, brother-in-law of the just-elected President John F. Kennedy.

The Myth of a Loyal Ally

Phil Tourney survived the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that left 34 Americans dead and 175 wounded. The region-wide dynamics accompanying that provocative Six-Day land grab guaranteed the conflicts that remain so perilous to U.S. national security.

It was during this Israeli operation that Tourney gave a one-fingered salute to armed Israeli troops as they hovered in helicopters over the USS Liberty while preparing to rappel to the deck and, he surmises, kill the survivors and sink the ship.

Just then the captain aboard a nearby U.S. carrier scrambled jets to assist a vessel under attack by an “ally.” When Israeli intelligence intercepted the transmission, the helicopters fled only to have President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recall our fighters.

Soon thereafter, Israeli torpedo boats pulled alongside the USS Liberty to inquire if those aboard needed assistance. Those same boats had just blown a hole in the hull, killing 25 Americans. Israeli machine-gunners had then strafed stretcher-bearers, firemen, life rafts and even the fire hoses—all clear war crimes. Only then did this ally display the chutzpah to ask if our servicemen required assistance.

Had that notorious land grab failed to advance the narrative of Israel as the victim, what might be the condition of U.S. national security today? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently conceded the duplicity that continues to typify this “special relationship.”

As he confessed: “Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv.”

In other words, the 1967 war was neither defensive nor preemptive but an outright taking of land that, one year later, Tel Aviv acknowledged as precisely what concerned the Pentagon 62 years ago.

In effect, Netanyahu confirmed that this relationship reflects multi-decade premeditation. The U.S. has since discredited itself by protecting this “ally” from the rule of law for its taking and brutal occupation of land that rightly belongs to others.

Even now, few know that Mathilde Krim, a former Irgun operative, was “servicing” our Commander-in-Chief in the White House the night the 1967 war began. Her husband, Arthur, then chaired the finance committee for the Democratic National Committee.

Even now, few Americans know the role in that cover-up played by Admiral John McCain, Jr. Or the role still played in this sordid history by his son, Republican Senator John McCain III.

Are those who champion this “state” the same belief-makers responsible for the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi meetings in Prague? Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories? High-level Iraqi contacts with Al Qaeda? Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger?

Was any of that intelligence legitimate? Whose interests were served by deceiving the U.S. to wage war in the Middle East? By the Suez Crisis? By the Six-Day War? By covering up the attack on the USS Liberty?

Adhering to an Enemy?

How are U.S. interests served by treating Israel as a legitimate state? When was Israeli behavior anything other than duplicitous? At what point do we concede the common source of the storylines foisted on an imperiled global public?

Who created the narrative that saw us segue seamlessly from a global Cold War to a global War on Terrorism? Remember the promise of a post-Cold War “peace dividend”? Who induced the U.S. to wage a war whose costs could total $3 trillion, including $700 billion in interest?

Why is debt always the prize? At the end of WWII, the U.S. was home to 50% of the world’s productive power. Were we induced to hollow out our economy by the same consensus-shapers that induced us to wage war in the Middle East?

Do these devastating dynamics trace to a common source?

Who benefits from the “Islamo” fascist narrative? Whose storyline—really—is The Clash of Civilizations? Who has long spied on the U.S. and routinely transferred to other nations our most sensitive defense technologies?

Who had the means, motive, opportunity and, importantly, the stable nation state intelligence required to perpetrate such a debilitating fraud from inside the U.S. government? And from inside other governments that joined the “coalition of the willing”?

If not Israel and its supporters—who? In effect, are those now advocating an “unbreakable bond” with Israel giving aid and comfort to an enemy within?

Israel is right to worry. It was never legitimate. As both an enabler and a target of this fraud, the U.S. has an obligation to concede its source—and to secure the weapons of mass destruction now under the control of this enclave.

Jeff Gates is author of “Guilt By Association, Democracy at Risk” and “The Ownership Solution”. Read more articles by Jeff Gates.

Neocons Salivate Over the Chance for Another Middle East War

June 26, 2009

Robert J. Ellisberg | The Huffington Post, June 26, 2009

“Now is not the time for the president to dig in to a neutral posture,” Paul Wolfowitz wrote last week in the Washington Post. “It is time to change course.”

Oh, swell. Now he wants to change course.

Mind you, as an architect of the Iraq War, it’s not like Mr. Wolfowitz’s track record on advice for the Middle East is terribly dazzling.

His opinion here is not terribly surprising, though. The neocon wing of the Republican Party has rarely found a war it doesn’t love to start (finishing, optional), most especially if they themselves don’t have to risk fighting it. And now, it seems like most conservative Republicans have their trigger finger itching to start yet another Middle East war.

Continued >>

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.

Barack Obama will close the torture jail of Bush and Cheney

November 17, 2008

Obama ‘will close Guantanamo Bay’

By Leonard Doyle in Washington | The Independent, Nov 17, 2008

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In his first major interview since polling day, President-elect Barack Obama said last night that upon taking office he would close Guantanamo Bay and ban torture by the American military. He also said it would be “a disaster” if the US car industry were to collapse in the midst of today’s economic crisis.

Mr Obama provided America with a glimpse of both the problems his administration will face and the bipartisan tone he intends to adopt once he takes office. The President-elect, joined by his wife, Michelle, discussed his priorities and the impact of the election on his family.

His first priority, he said, was appointing a new national security team to ensure a smooth transition to power. But the wide-ranging interview focused largely on the threats to the US economy. “It’s my belief that we need to provide assistance to the auto industry,” Mr Obama told CBS’s 60 minutes, adding “But I think that it can’t be a blank check.”

The Senate, which he resigned from yesterday, is expected to vote this week on emergency loans to the beleaguered car industry, despite stiff opposition from Republicans.

Mr Obama meets his defeated rival, John McCain, today for the first time since crossing swords in the debates that punctuated their occasionally ill-tempered election battle. The meeting in Chicago is billed as an attempt to usher in a new era of bipartisanship, a frequent refrain of Mr Obama’s on the campaign trail.

Unlike Mr Obama’s other former rival, Hillary Clinton, who is among the top contenders for Secretary of State, Senator McCain is not being considered for a formal role in the administration. Advisers say he will be asked for help on issues where they share common ground, including climate change, ethics reform, immigration and torture.

That bipartisan mood between the former rivals may be tested if Mr McCain opposes a taxpayer bailout of Detroit. The new bill would allow some of the $700bn (£350bn) fund to bail out the financial services industry to be used to rescue the car industry.

Mr Obama said he wants the aid to ensure there is a sustainable car industry, “so that we are creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere. And that’s, I think, what you haven’t yet seen.”

On the broader economy he said “the challenges that we’re confronting are enormous, and they’re multiple. And so there are times during the course of a given a day where you think, ‘Where do I start in terms of moving – moving things forward?’

“And part of this next two months is to really get a clear set of priorities, understanding we’re not going be able to do everything at once, making sure the team is in place, and moving forward in a very deliberate way and sending a clear signal to the American people that we’re going to be thinking about them and what they’re going through.”

Mr Obama published a farewell letter to newspapers in Illinois to accompany his formal resignation of his Senate seat. He compared himself with Abraham Lincoln, “another son of Illinois” who had left for Washington, “a greater man who spoke to a nation far more divided”.

Obama and the Better Angels of Our Nature

November 3, 2008

John Nichols | The Nation,  Nov 3, 2008

At the close of his first inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln spoke to those who would divide the United States.

“We are not enemies, but friends,” said the 16th president. “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Almost 150 years after Lincoln uttered those words, America is again divided.

The question that will be answered by voters on this first Tuesday in November is whether the land must remain divided.

Eight years of George Bush’s tragically flawed attempt at a presidency have strained the very fabric of the American experiment. Our debates about war and peace, taxes and spending, civil rights and civil liberties have developed bitter edges that suggest we are enemies: Democrat versus Republican, Red State versus Blue State, liberal versus conservative.

The banner-carrier of Lincoln’s Republican party in this fall’s election, John McCain, has torn open holes in that fabric, exploiting the oldest and ugliest of our differences.

And yet, most Americans are still touched by the better angels of our nature.

We still believe that this great nation can and should be what Lincoln imagined: “the last best hope of Earth.”

That, more than any of the vagaries of campaign finance, battleground-state calculations or simplistic candidate comparisons, explains why Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency has been so successful — and why its success has become an imperative no less consequential than those of other historic candidacies: Jefferson in 1800, Lincoln in 1860, Roosevelt in 1932.

It may be mere coincidence that Obama is, like Lincoln, an Illinoisan with a relatively short resume of electoral service.

But as Obama submits himself to what his home-state predecessor called “this great tribunal of the American people,” we are reminded of the essential message of Lincoln’s distant campaigning: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew and then we shall save our country.”

The more cautious among us still suggest that to support Obama requires too great a leap of faith, just as it has always been suggested of young men who bid for the presidency before the established order judges it to be their time. But the American people have a history of understanding, as they did with Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, that sound judgment and an ability to inspire should count for more than a long resume and the burden of knowing too much of what is not supposed to be achievable and too little of the infinite possibility of this unfinished American project.

Had he run a better campaign, John McCain would be a worthy adversary to Obama. He was a maverick once – not a progressive maverick, not a radical reformer. But after the most dangerous elements in his party took charge in the mid-1990s, McCain refused for a time to go along with those who sought to destroy the last vestiges of the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower.

Clinton’s record was once commendable, if imperfect. It is now tarnished beyond repair.

Obama’s resume is shorter than McCain’s, and imperfect in places. But it is precisely right for the American moment. As a community organizer in Chicago. Obama worked to save industrial jobs and the neighborhoods they sustain. As an Illinois state senator he was an ardent advocate of that state’s historic death penalty moratorium. As a likely contender for the U.S. Senate in 2002 and 2003, he marched with anti-war protesters. As a freshman senator he worked with Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold to promote sweeping ethics reforms. And as a presidential candidate he has mounted a campaign distinguished by its optimism, its vigor, its appeal to the young and the previously disengaged, and its success in upending the calculations of those who thought they controlled our politics.

Everything about the Republican nominee’s current campaign suggests that a McCain presidency would be a continuation of the Bush era. Everything about Obama’s campaign suggests that he favors a bolder break with the failed politics and policies of the Bush interregnum.

McCain has attempted to define Obama as a radical in the last days of this very long campaign. And, in a sense, the senior senator is right. In fact, the Democrat proposes a change that would be far more radical than McCain and angriest supporters dare imagine: a transformation. Obama’s is the politics of faith in the prospect of democratic renewal; of the worthy dream that a divided people might unite around common purposes and lower partisan barriers to make possible dramatic shifts in the way the United States relates to the world and to itself.

It is for that reason that many of the nation’s most prominent Republicans – former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Susan Eisenhower, former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee, former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach, and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, among them – have endorsed Obama.

McCain derides Obama as a “big talker” holding out false hope to worried Americans.

Obama responds that, “This whole notion of false hopes bothers me. There is no such thing as false hopes.”

Some truths are self-evident – among them, that Lincoln would have preferred Obama’s hope to McCain’s desperate denial of it. And so, it seems, will the voters of these United States. Just as when they supported another radical from Illinois 148 years ago, the American people continue to prefer the audacity of hope to the compromise of complacency.

As Election Day finally arrives, it is right to speak of hope – a hope that America’s Democrats, independents and Republicans will again embrace the better angels of our nature and support the candidacy of another young Illinoisan so overwhelmingly that he can secure his claim on the presidency of a nation that is so ready to begin anew.

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.

John McCain in the Echo Chamber

October 29, 2008
AP photo / Carolyn Kaster

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is reflected in a teleprompter at a rally in Belton, Mo., last week.

By Gore Vidal | Truthdig, Oct 27, 2008

October proved to be the cruelest month, for that was the time that Sen. McCain, he of the round, blank, Little Orphan Annie eyes, chose to try out a number of weird lies about Barack Obama ostensibly in the interest of a Republican Party long overdue for burial.

It is a wonder that any viewer survived his furious October onslaught whose craziest lie was that Obama wished to become president in order to tax the poor in the interest of a Democratic Party in place, as he put it in his best 1936 voice, to spend and spend because that’s what Democrats always do. This was pretty feeble lying, even in such an age as ours. But it was the only thing that had stuck with him from those halcyon years when Gov. Alfred M. Landon was the candidate of the Grand Old Party, which in those days was dedicated to erasing every policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose electoral success was due to, they thought, Harry Hopkins’ chilling mantra, “we shall … spend and spend and elect and elect.” Arguably, the ignorant McCains of this world have no idea what any of this actually signifies; Hopkins’ comment is a serious one, and serious matters seldom break through to cliché-ridden minds.

Although I am no fan of the television of my native land, I thought that an election featuring two historic novelties—the first credible female candidate for president and the first black nominee—would be great historic television, yet I should have been suspicious whenever I looked at McCain’s malicious little face, plainly bent on great mischief. Whenever Obama made a sensible point, McCain was ready to trump it with a gorgeous lie.

When Obama said that only a small percentage of the middle class would suffer from income tax during his administration, McCain would start gabbling the 1936 Republican mantra that this actually meant that he would spend and spend and spend in order to spread the money around, a mild joke he has told for the benefit of a plumber who is looking forward to fiscal good fortune and so feared the tax man, using language very like that of long-dead socialists to reveal Obama’s sinister games.

Advice to Obama: No civilized asides are permitted in McCain Land, where every half-understood word comes from the shadowy bosses of a diabolic Democratic Party, eager to steal the money of the poor in order to benefit, perversely, the even poorer.

So October (my natal month) was no joy for me, as the degradation of our democratic process was being McCainized. McCain is a prisoner of the past. Later, in due course he gave us the old address book treatment: names from Obama’s past, each belonging to a potential terrorist. Even from the corpse of the Republican Party, which Abraham Lincoln left somewhat hastily in the 19th century, this was an unusually sickening display.

Happily, physicists assure us that there is no action without reaction.

There were still a few bright glimmers of something larger than a mere candidate of the Republican Party, but Mr. McCain seems to be in the terminal throes of a self-love that causes him to regard himself as a great American hero. From time to time, he likes to shout at us, “I have fought in many, many wars,” and, “I have won many of them,” but he has, so far, never told us which were the ones that he has actually won, since every war that he has graced with his samurai presence seems to have been thoroughly lost by the United States. Consistency is all-important to the born loser as well as to the committed liar.

So what little fame he has rests on the fact that he was taken a prisoner of war by the Vietnamese—hardly a recommendation for the leadership of the “free world”—and thus aware of the meagerness of his own curriculum vitae, for his vice presidential choice he then turned radically, in the age of the awakening to power of women, to an Alaskan politician; a giggly Piltdown princess out of pre-history.

Her qualification? She has once been mayor (or was it “mare”?) of an Alaskan village and later governor of what had been known as “Seward’s Icebox,” named for Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, who had over the misgivings of many bought all that ice from Russia.

One does get the impression that the senator from Arizona is living in a sort of echo chamber of nonsensical phrases, notions and unreality.

To further add insult to injury, as it were, he describes himself as a “maverick,” which one critic in the audience assures him he is not, anyway, like the great Maury Maverick, a New Deal congressman from Texas who was so dedicated to freedom that he allowed his cattle to roam unbranded, freely on the range—a tribute to a time when Texans were freer than now in the post-Bush era.

The critic in the audience said that he was no maverick in the usual sense on the ground that he was simply a sidekick. That just about sums it up: Sidekick to the only president we have ever had who lacked any interest in governance.

As we are going through a religious phase in this greatest of all great nations, I am reminded of Chancellor Bismarck’s remark about us Americans in the 19th century when he said: “God looks after drunks, little children and the United States of America.”


Ex-Bush spokesman backs Obama

October 24, 2008
Al Jazeera, Oct 24, 2008

McCain’s message seemed to be resonate with his own supporters [Reuters]

The former press secretary to George Bush has announced he is backing Barack Obama in the race to replace his ex-boss as US president.

Scott McClellan said on Thursday that he had decided to back the Democrat because he wanted to support the candidate with the best chance of changing the way Washington – the political heart of the US – works and gets things done.

His announcement is yet another blow to the campaign of John McCain, the Republican contender, who is struggling to erode Obama’s opinion poll lead.

McClellan is the second former Bush administration figure this week to publicly support Obama after Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state under Bush, threw his weight behind the Illinois senator.

McClellan disclosed his decision during the recording of a television show to be shown on CNN, the US broadcaster, this weekend.

He had ruffled the feathers of his former colleagues with the publication of What Happened, a book that was critical of Bush and exposed some of the inner workings of the administration.

Candidates spar

The news came after the US presidential candidates attacked each other once again on economic issues as they continued to campaign across key battleground states.

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McCain told voters in Florida that Obama’s plan to raise taxes on small businesses making more than $250,000 would “kill jobs” and “comes at the worst possible time for America”.The McCain campaign also released a new advertisement using “Joe the Plumber”, the Ohio plumber who questioned Obama over his tax plans earlier this month.

Trailing in opinion polls both nationally and in many key states, McCain is facing a difficult path to victory and finds himself racing to defend states that have voted Republican in recent elections.

‘International crisis’

However, Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, who has been following the McCain campaign, said the message based around “Joe the Plumber” was resonating, at least among his supporters, who cheered every time the name was mentioned.

The Arizona senator’s latest campaign advertisement features a number of Americans all saying “I am Joe the Plumber too”.

“Senator Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of pie than he is in growing the pie,” McCain told a cheering crowd at an Ormond Beach timber yard.

“He’s more concerned about using taxes to spread the wealth than creating a tax plan that creates jobs and grows our economy,” he said.

McCain also again used an assertion by Joe Biden, Obama’s running-mate that, like John F Kennedy, Obama would be tested with an international crisis within six months of taking office.

“Senator Obama tried to explain away this by saying his running mate sometimes engages in ‘rhetorical flourishes’. Really? Really?” he said.

Bush link

Obama says his tax plan would give a tax cut to 95 per cent of Americans.

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The Illinois senator gave his last campaign speech in Indiana on Thursday before leaving the campaign for two days to go to Hawaii to be with his gravely ill grandmother.Obama said the US could not afford a president McCain who “thinks the economic policies of George W Bush are just right for America”.

“He made kind of a strange argument that the best way to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas is to give more tax cuts to companies that are shipping jobs overseas,” Obama said of his opponent.

“More tax cuts for job outsourcers. That’s what Senator McCain proposed as his answer to outsourcing.”

With less than two weeks before the election, Obama leads McCain 52 per cent to 40 per cent among likely voters in the latest three-day tracking poll by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby.

However, an Associated Press poll released on Wednesday put the gap between the two at just one per cent with Obama on 44 per cent and McCain 43.

The world’s greatest democracy?

October 23, 2008

Elizabeth Schulte examines the reality behind the rhetoric about the American two-party system.

U.S. Capitol building

DURING THE last presidential debate, John McCain fired off a desperate last-minute accusation about forces “on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history…maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

His claim was that the anti-poverty organization Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was trying to fix the election for Barack Obama by turning in fraudulent registrations. The charge didn’t seem to have any grounding in fact–since ACORN itself pointed out the questionable registrations to election officials.

The Republican complaints about ACORN make a mockery of the very real stories of disenfranchisement in the U.S.–most notoriously, hundreds of thousands of African American voters in Florida, who were struck from the rolls in 2000, assuring George Bush’s theft of the White House.

The fact that ACORN pays workers to go out and sign people up to vote–mostly in poor and minority neighborhoods–raises another problem. Why, if the right to vote is so important to the fabric of U.S. democracy, doesn’t the government make its own effort to register the disenfranchised?

The truth is that even when no one is stealing a vote or intimidating a voter, American elections are far from democratic.

TAKE THE way the president is actually chosen. The president isn’t elected by popular vote, but by the Electoral College. Each state has electors based on their number of senators and representatives in Congress–which means every state gets at least two electors, no matter how many people live there. Because of this, states with small–and usually rural and overwhelmingly white–populations are overrepresented in the presidential election.

There are only two political parties in the U.S. that get a real hearing at election time. There have been times in U.S. histories when third parties threatened to shake up the two-party system–such as the 1930s, when there was sentiment for a labor party to represent workers–but these initiatives were almost always smothered.

Thus, third parties are kept out of most debates by rules and regulations written by the mainstream establishment, they are forced to jump through often insurmountable hoops to even appear on the ballot, and they are shut out of the media.

The Democrats and the Republicans, while they tout their differences during the election season, fundamentally represent the same interests–those few at the top of society who control the wealth.

So while the majority of people are supposed to believe that they are voting for a certain set of ideas or political positions represented by their party’s candidate, the reality is that the job of politicians, first and foremost, is to make sure that the interests of Corporate America are protected.

The U.S. calls itself the “world greatest democracy.” But there’s no real evidence to back up this claim. As Lance Selfa notes in his book The Democrats: A Critical History:

Although the Democratic Party is one of the longest-existing mainstream parties in the world, it doesn’t really compare to many of the world’s political parties on the most basic levels. It has no fixed membership or membership requirements…The party has no stated set of principles or programs…

As party conventions have developed into little more than trade shows rolling out that year’s model (the presidential candidate), the party platform is usually synonymous with the candidate’s talking points. In any event, the Democratic Party candidates–from the presidency to the city council–are free to follow or to ignore the party platform in their election drives…

The standard picture of a political party handed down to us from civics and political science classes is one of a collective body that people organize to get collectively from government what they can’t get as individuals. The political party in a democracy represents the citizens who indicate their preferences about what they want from government when they vote to put the party’s candidates in office. And yet it’s clear that the oversimplified model does not reflect reality.

A case in point, Selfa writes, is the overwhelming Democratic Party victory in 2006 congressional elections–which was mostly the result of voters’ opposition to the Iraq war and their determination to throw out the pro-war Republicans. Despite this, the Democrats didn’t lift a finger to end the war after taking control of Congress; rather, they continued to fund it.

This undemocratic democracy isn’t relegated to the U.S. It exists the world over in different forms. This is because at the heart of bourgeois democracy is the illusion that elected officials make decisions based on the best interests of the people who vote them into office.

It is not simply that politicians are bought and paid for by particular wealthy people or industries–though they are corrupted by the system of campaign contributions. Beyond this, politicians are part of a state machine whose job is to preserve the status quo.

Like the cop and the judge, the elected official ensures that the basic class relationship prevailing in society doesn’t change–that a tiny minority controls all the wealth that is produced by the vast majority, the working class. The state poses as a neutral body, but as Karl Marx and Frederick Engels put it in the Communist Manifesto, “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

There are also many crucial decisions about the direction of society that aren’t made through the ballot box. Voters don’t decide what is a fair wage, or whether they have health insurance, or whether their working conditions are too dangerous. The majority of the population sure didn’t have a say about the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street or the future of families hit by foreclosure.

But this doesn’t mean we’re powerless to make change. The actions of ordinary people have achieved extraordinary things–the abolition of slavery, the end of Jim Crow segregation, the eight-hour day–because those people organized themselves and fought for what they wanted and needed.

Continued . . .

The Forgotten U.S. War on the Iraqi People

October 21, 2008

By Ghali Hassan | Axis of Logic,  Oct 16, 2008, 19:42

On October 3, 2008, the Washington Post reported that the Pentagon is paying $300 million to U.S. contractors to produce pro-U.S. propaganda for Iraqi audiences “in an effort to ‘engage and inspire’ the local population to support U.S. objectives and the puppet government”. The aim of this psychological warfare is to normalise the murderous Occupation and cover-up the slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians.

As Iraqis continue to suffer, the war on has receded from mainstream media headlines in order to remove people’s historical memory and to provide the Republican Party with a fictitious victory and improves John McCain’s chances of winning the presidency. In the same way the decade-long genocidal sanctions that killed 2 million innocent Iraqi civilians were normalised, journalists and media outlets in the U.S. and in occupied Iraq are promoted and paid to write “good news” stories about the ongoing Occupation.

As a result, few Americans are against the war, and most of the US population still find it acceptable to perpetuate barbarism against defenceless population. The justification and rationalisations for the application of barbaric violence have been based on U.S. euphemistic doctrines with disregard to international law and civilised norms.  Despite the enormity of the atrocity in Iraq, Americans have re-elected George Bush in 2004 and continue paying $12 billion per month to propel a criminal war which is destroying an entire society.

Indeed, since World War II, the U.S. has committed unimaginable war crimes against defenceless civilian population, more than any other nation on earth. It is astonishing that a large segment of US society is proud of these horrendous war crimes, and violence continues to play an important role in the US psyche. Just take a look at how the bigoted John McCain is portrayed by the media as a “maverick” and a war “hero” (not a war criminal) and even allowed to (deceptively) distance himself from George Bush and his own Republican Party’s ideology. His incompetence in foreign policy, the economy, and his erratic character and criminal record in Vietnam and Iraq have largely been ignored in the media.

It is certain, if the Republicans are re-elected and John McCain become president, the U.S. will declare a police state and will embark on a war agenda reminiscent of Hitler’s war agenda. The Republican ideology is a Nazis’-like ideology seeking to dominate the world through violence, racism and propaganda. With thousands of U.S. troops have been deployed on U.S. streets to control the population, the people of the United States do not need more serious warnings.

The world ignores U.S. war crimes

Why is the world ignoring the U.S.-perpetuated war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq? The primary reasons are: Western media complicity in U.S. war crimes through disinformation and distortion of the situation on ground; and most importantly, Islamophobia. The U.S.-Zionist media play an important role in spreading anti-Muslims propaganda throughout the world, demonising Muslims and distorting Islam in order to manipulate public opinion and justify war crimes against Muslims at home and abroad. Additionally, a deep-seated and inherently widespread dehumanisation of Arabs and Muslims by Western media, the Western ruling classes and opportunist politicians encourages silence and moral bankruptcy.

Recall how in 2003 the US people and a large segment of Western population were manipulated and deceived to support an illegal war of aggression against an entirely defenceless Iraqi population. Deep silence prevailed despite it was well-known that Iraq had neither weapons of mass destruction nor any link to “terrorism”, and that the pretexts were outright lies fabricated in Washington and London. The aggression against Iraq was and still is a crime against humanity and those who supported the crimes have blood on their hands.

Pretexts used to justify the illegal war and occupation

Immediately after the pretexts to justify the invasion were exposed, the U.S. began to engineer and used countless pretexts to justify the ongoing Occupation, including the incitement of massive outbreak of violence. For instance, the U.S.-drafted “Iraqi Constitution” defines Iraqis according to their ethnicities and religious sects. It was designed to divide Iraqis and sow the seeds of hatred and division that defined Iraq today. Hence, the Occupation-generated violence is a deliberate strategy to justify the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. It is the Bush regime’s strategy to “stay the course”. It has achieved what the U.S. regime has planned before the aggression; the destruction of Iraq’s unity and the establishment of a U.S. military foothold in Iraq.

More than five years of murderous Occupation, George Bush and his criminal accomplices remain unindicted. Moreover, the Bush regime is refusing to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and restore the Iraqi freedom and independence. Instead, the Bush regime is bribing and coercing members of the criminal puppet government – whose survival depends on the Occupation – to sign a deal to permanently station U.S. troops in Iraq against the will of the Iraqi people. It is now clear to everyone that the motives for the premeditated aggression and subsequent Occupation are:

  1. to establish a colonial dictatorship in Iraq through an open-ended military presence and use the country as a launching pad to attack other countries;
  2. enhance Israel’s Zionist expansion in Palestine and the Middle East in general; and
  3. guard Western multinational oil corporations seizing control of strategic Iraqi oil reserves.

The “surge” and ethnic cleansing in Iraq

Meanwhile, the propaganda for a new “victory” in Iraq is in full swing. The so-called “reduction” in violence against Iraqi civilians has much to do with the mass killing and widespread ethnic cleansing that have left less people to kill not the “surge” in troops number as the Bush’s regime alleges. According to the Pentagon Quarterly Report, Iraq has become a nation of ethnically cleansed neighbourhoods, separated by concrete walls dividing communities and preventing free movement. This so-called “neighbourhood homogenisation” has been achieved only through a U.S.-controlled reign of terror and mass murder of Iraqi civilians. Today, a large part of Baghdad’s neighbourhoods have been emptied of their original population. At least 5 million Iraqis are either internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring countries.

Other studies have also pointed out to the ethnic cleansing perpetuated by U.S. forces and U.S.-controlled death squads and militias in reducing some of the violence against Iraqi civilians and have rejected the Bush’s regime propaganda that the “surge” is responsible for the “reduction” in violence. One of these studies is the UCLA Study. While the Study found that “the surge has no observable effect”, it is also deliberately misleading. The Study suggestion that the “surge” designed “to improve the materials condition of life and create a breathing space for political compromise between major factions” in Baghdad is a falsehood. The “surge” is part of the Republicans propaganda campaign which is designed to mislead the American public and provides John McCain with something to say about a murderous Occupation. The reality is that the Occupation remains the root causes of violence and destruction in Iraq.

Furthermore, Iraqi sources reveal that conditions are worsening in the Baghdad once again ‘despite the heavy presence of Iraqi security forces and a surge in number of checkpoints’. U.S. officials say the “surge” is “success”, but they also called the situation “fragile” and “reversible”, means the Occupation will continue.

Another factor that has contributed to the “reduction” in violence is that the U.S. began paying militias, including the Kurdish militia and collaborators to collaborate and stop carrying out killings (executions) anti-Occupation civilians. Additionally, Iran role in restraining Iranian criminals and Iranian-controlled militias and encouraged them to collaborate with the Occupation must be acknowledged.

At the timing of this writing, U.S. troops killed 11 people from one family while conducting a dawn raid on a house in the Seventeen Tammuz neighbourhoods, west of Mosul. It is an established fact that the ongoing violence is controlled by U.S. forces and their collaborators. This has been the norm since 2003. Of course, every time U.S. forces perpetuated a massacre of Iraqi civilians, they cover-up their war crimes by alleging that they have killed “al-Qaeda” fighters. The phantom, which the U.S. created to justify terrorism, keeps growing wherever U.S. forces invade a foreign nation.

The unprovoked criminal invasion and subsequent Occupation of Iraq have resulted in deliberate mass killing and physical destruction of Iraq in whole or in part.  Every major population centre has been targeted by a campaign of terror and indiscriminate aerial bombings using all kinds of legally banned weapons of mass destruction. At least 1.3 million innocent Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, have been killed since 2003. While this figure is a conservative figure, it is still much higher than the Rwandan genocide.

Only the U.S. and Israel (and their allies) could get away with such unimaginable war crimes against innocent civilians and terrorism. In every country the U.S. and its allies have invaded, they brought chaos and insecurity rather than “freedom” and “democracy”, they destroyed rather than build, they brought poverty rather than prosperity, and they sowed the seeds of violence rather than seeds of peace. The ongoing atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan are just the current examples.

According to the UN Convention on Genocide, there is an ongoing genocide in Iraq. Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group such as:

  • killing members of the group;
  • causing serious bodily or mental harm;
  • deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and
  • forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Hence, there is overwhelming evidence to charge George Bush and his willing allies and accomplices with war crimes and genocide. An indictment of Western leaders with war crimes and crimes against humanity could pave the way for a peaceful and just world and reduce the eventuality of premeditated and unprovoked war of aggression.

Finally, the Pentagon-funded propaganda campaign is a psychological warfare designed to whitewash a murderous Occupation. The only way to end the colonial Occupation of Iraq and stop the mass slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians is the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and mercenaries from Iraq.

© Copyright 2008 by

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