Ohio is key to electing Barack Obama

Todd Beeton of mydd.com makes an excellent point about the current state of the presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain:

“In the wake of the emergence of Sarah Palin, one thing becomes clear: we are reverting to an electoral map far closer to that of 2004 than many anticipated a few months ago.”

Read the whole post, it goes on to make plenty of good points. But the key in all of them: that Ohio is now as crucial as ever in the electoral map.

As an Ohio resident, I look forward to voting for Barack Obama, and I can say that is the most common sentiment in the Cleveland area. But beyond that, I think that the economic situation in Ohio and the lousy effects of NAFTA on the state are going to motivate Ohioans from farm to city and from suburb to exurb to vote for Obama, the candidate with much more clear and practical ideas on what to do on the economy and the less likely to give in to disadvantageous trade agreements that will continue to hollow out the industrial base even during a commodities boom.

If the race really is going to come down to issues like the economy and international issues and Obama is able to articulate his views on those matters at the debates (a big if given the quality of debates so far this year) he may be able to open up a wider electoral map again in his advantage anyway, contesting states like Colorado, Virginia and Montana, especially when voters are alerted to the fact that John McCain’s views may be couched in stirring rhetoric but substantively represent a continuation of the clownish antics of George W. Bush’s administration, which some 70% of America has tired of.

Good news: a warmonger fascist hates Obama

In a book review, Pankaj Mishra recounts the hubris and idiocy of Woodrow Wilson and his quest to make the world “safe for democracy.” In this telling, we are informed that writers for the New Republic magazine were among his most prominent and important backers. Moving ahead to the 21st century, we are reminded in the review that the same magazine backed the fascist aggression against Iraq led by George W. Bush.

Writing for the New Republic today, and carrying on a moronic tradition, is Mr. Leon Wieseltier, the magazine’s literary editor and spinner of clever phrases.

It’s bad enough that not long ago Wieseltier was mentioned in this [sock-puppeted] boast from discredited blogger and proven liar Lee Siegel: “They hate him because they want to write like him but can’t. Maybe if they’d let themselves go and write truthfully, they’d get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.”

Employing that scumbag was bad enough, and brings up real questions about his judgement. But Wieseltier’s recent rants about Barack Obama should bring even greater pause. Mr. Obama, we are told, is simply too young mentally, too naive, a child selling “euphoria.”

Apparently since he doesn’t favor war-mongering in his speeches, and phrases that Wieseltier enjoys like “Islamistan,” Obama does not possess, in Wieseltier’s own words, “the hardness I seek.” (What man does? He won’t say.)

But I will close by simply quoting what amounts to the key point of the article, which brings up the question in my mind of whether war-mongering is a side dish here and the main plate, just as in Wilson’s day, is racism:

“There is almost no more commonplace trait of human existence (and of African American existence) than false hopes.”

This is vile language, nothing more than a call for a return to the divisions of the past and a plea for fear of the future.

[Barack Obama for President 2008!! To find why I support Barack Obama, check out pacificpelican.us podcasts 16, 18 and 19, and this article on sf3am.com/citynews.]

I’m here to protest the Iraq war

Jessica and I rode our bikes out to the anti-Iraq-war protest Saturday, making our way to Dolores Park in the Mission from our place in the northwest of the city. When we got there we took some photos, and also took some video which is now pacificpelican.us/podcast #13. The title of this post [“I’m here to protest the Iraq war”] is the opening remark that Jessica makes in her very impressive and persuasive appearance in the second half of the podcast.

It was later in the day when we were there, and it was hard to gauge how many people had participated overall. But I would say that it seemed like it was a very demographically broad group, all very determined to take action to stop the war.

The casual weekend marchers and local news anchors may have gotten bored with these things, but those that continue to hold signs or bus in from out of town are primed to continue their activism, for whatever it might accomplish.

Democratic politicans have certainly failed to do their job in ending this war, but I guess I’m still hoping that Barack Obama can get some momentum in the presidential campaign, and maybe do the right thing in Iraq when he gets in to power.

And what is that right thing? Withdraw. Now.

MSU to fascist: shut up!

Britain always has a ready inventory of neo-Nazis, skinheads, and Cromwellists, and recently one of them made a trip across the pond to share his hate and stupidity with kindred spirits in American campus conservatism. It’s good to see my undergraduate alma mater, Michigan State University, taking a stand against him, with numerous student activists shouting him down and telling him he’s not welcome.

Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo saw a very nasty reception when he made the mistake of visiting last December. Well done, I say–racist morons should learn to stay out of Spartan country.

So, Republicans, are Bush detractors still "deranged"?

For years, and quite after it was obvious that the Bush administration was a kind of tinpot revolution of rabid anti-New-Dealers, fascist lawbreakers and choose-up-siders, legions of Bush’s supporters threw around the defamatory remark that anyone pining for the Constitution was somehow a problematic mind suffering from “Bush derangement syndrome.”

The reality, of course, is that many of these maniacs were the ones truly deranged.

One of the benefits of study of America’s history is the discredit of the patriotic naivete that, I am afraid to say, so many of my fellow citizens (and too many these days on the left) seem to have gained from their superficial, clouded view of what this country is really about.

Every one of Bush’s stupid defenders–and by that I mean ones not directly and heavily invested in this collapsing administration, who may be acting rationally by defending him–should take a look at what Joe Nacchio is saying:

‘Former chief executive Joseph P. Nacchio, convicted in April of 19 counts of insider trading, said the NSA approached Qwest more than six months before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents unsealed in Denver this week.’

All of a sudden all those 9/11 rationalizations that political commentators of all sorts have given for the illegal wiretapping and data mining all fall by the wayside. Time to think of some new excuses, deranged Republicans.

According to Israel, Gaza in dark for "security reasons"

‘The Israeli military has said it will open a border crossing with the Gaza Strip for a few hours on Sunday to allow fuel deliveries to the territory.

The announcement comes a day after parts of Gaza were plunged into darkness because of fuel shortages.

The territory relies on Israel for fuel but Israel says it stopped regular deliveries for security reasons.’

Oh, security reasons.  That and the fact that they bombed the power infrastructure there last year.

Nothing to do with collective punishment after that coup by Hamas?

People have been warning about this building crisis.   It’s all leading up to more violence.

John Edwards's lackluster reply–from a January letter

I just received a response in the mail from John Edwards, who apparently signs his signature with a big black marker, about a January letter.

All that time for his staff to think about it didn’t really seem to help, in terms of addressing my actual concerns.  I mentioned the letter previously in an endorsement of Barack Obama [bookmarks],and it certainly wasn’t focused on Iraq [bookmarks,category] as the reply from the Edwards camp acted like.  In fact, in the letter that I wrote I was deriding the renewed bellicosity of John Edwards toward Iran [bookmarks,article] and arguing for less military adventures overseas.

This excerpt from the Edwards form letter I received just about sums up why he is not listening:

‘After withdrawal, we should keep sufficient forces in the region to contain the conflict and ensure that instability in Iraq does not spill over into other countries.’

First of all, the whole point of “withdrawal” is to get out.  “After withdrawal,” maybe it will be time to run our own country and leave this kind of violent aggression in the past?

Second of all, the whole point of the Iraq invasion according to some versions of the neoconservative master plan was that the “creative destruction” of Iraqi democracy would spread to the sullen dictatorships in the area and create a popular movement for change.  Instead it has uncorked the kind of madness that makes those stodgy old regimes look like a less bad solution than previously–including to their own people.  Indeed, governments in Syria and Jordan prize nothing higher than stability, and are worried about the American-caused instability spilling over onto their regimes.

Is it that Edwards and his campaign team just don’t get that, and are just stumbling along believing that something can be salvaged from the failed wars of the Bush administration [bookmarks]?  Or are they forgetting the lessons of Iraq and falling back into the war-loving, war-profiteering consensus that exists among most powerful members of the major political parties and the major media, popular will be damned?

I respect John Edwards and his wife and despise the nasty insults that vile popular conservative commentators have lobbed at them.  But Mr. Edwards certainly peaked politically four years ago and times have changed; it’s time to time to back Obama (unless he gets any squishier about Iraq, Iran and the so-called war on terror) against Hillary in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and election [bookmarks].

How dangerous is Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton photo by Reuters, March 2007

Hillary Clinton might be the opponent that many conservatives claim they want to face in the general elections–but that might be true for reasons that are somewhat surprising.

Those clumsy “folks,” as he probably calls them, at the RNC–you know, what remains of the political operation of George W. Bush, that guy whose approoval is less than 30%, that guy who never got any immigration “reform” bill or Social Security Bill or–remember the Orwellian [arghh, so much Orwellian stuff from these clowns–Clear Skies and all that] “ownership society” buzzword from the 2004 campaign? You get the idea. Those people seem to fairly salivate at the idea of Republican candidate taking on Hillary.

But why should anyone listen to the spin from Bush’s people? Bush is finished politically and he was so busy with “war on my mind” that he has practically no major accomplishments to point to. I think there might be some lonely, arid days out at Crawford after the power is gone. (He did get to sign off on quite a few tax cuts though–for his “base” he is actually a great president, and always will be.)

And will Bush ever travel internationally after his term ends (assuming he doesn’t start adding lifetime rule to his other lawless assertions of executive power–Congress has done so little to check him so far, maybe they would accept that as well) when he will probably be indicted by the International Criminal Court as a war criminal?

Is that a bit too far? Well, no. For the great crime–invading Iraq based on falsehoods, the false charges about the WMD, the violation of Iraqi sovereignty–the UN would have to enforce its charter. As it is, the UN seems more interested in legitimizing the brutal, imperial occupation. So for the great crime Bush will likely not be indicted. But for some of the small crimes committed in ICC signatory nations, Bush could easily be held responsible. This would include the CIA “black sites” secret prisons in Poland and Romania (for which I would seriously recommend debate in the European Parliament and the EC for both of their expulsion from the EU superstate, by the way) and the illegal kidnapping of an Islamic cleric in Italy, for which several American agents face trial in absentia in Italy.

So back to Hillary and why the Bush administration types like the idea of running against her. They love the idea of demonizing her the way they and the media did with Howard Dean and Tom Daschle (and by that I mean inflating both of those mediocrities to be leviathons of liberalism). Check out this old Sean Hannity interview with Dick Cheney from June 2005:

HANNITY: Not just Howard Dean. I mean, Harry Reid, in front of school children, called the president of the United States of American a loser. Hillary Clinton said there’s never been in the history of this country an administration I believe more intent upon consolidating and abusing power. What is going on in your mind, I mean, as you hear those this? The campaign was over in November.

CHENEY: I sounds to me like…

HANNITY: Seems to be — seems like campaign rhetoric, right?

CHENEY: Well, or beyond it. Maybe Hillary’s spending too much time with Howard.

HANNITY: That’s a good line. And Harry Reid.


But as I was saying, the Hillary demonizers are only one group of right-wingers that want to see her run. Another group, the more surprising one, actually wants Hillary to be president because they seem to think that she will be just as much of a warmonger as any Republican candidate, and probably more so. Here’s what Weekly Standard writer and Fox News analyst Fred Barnes said, talking about the Youtube debate this month:

‘FOR HILLARY CLINTON, the presidency is not in the bag. Even winning the Democratic presidential nomination is considerably less than a sure thing. But of the 18 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, Clinton is the most likely to be the next president. And she did nothing last night in the bizarre presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, to alter that.

Clinton managed to maintain at least the outward appearance of seriousness in a debate that included a taped question from someone dressed as a snowman, another from a sanctimonious Planned Parenthood official who asked if the candidates had talked to their kids about sex, and an especially silly one about whether the candidates would be willing to be paid the minimum wage as president. Most of them lied and said yes.’

Yes, here we go again with that “serious” thing. (Remember that old Kool Aid commercial?–“Now it’s time to get serious–SERIOUSLY WACKY!!”) And here’s an eerily similar comment from another creep, New Republic writer Michael Crowley:

‘But the one who stood out was Hillary. She shows really impressive poise and confidence, and didn’t lose her stride even in the face of offbeat questions about her gender and voter fatigue with the Clinton and Bush families. I also particularly liked her answer about nuclear power: She explained that nuclear has promise that is hard to tap for reasons of cost and waste–but that instead of writing it off (as John Edwards seemed to) we should redouble technological efforts to address those problems.’

These kind of people supporting Hillary is the one of best reasons yet to support Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton will say anything or do anything to win the Democratic nomination–even friends of the Clintons sometimes let slip occasional truths about their dishonesty–and after that watch out for a Joe Lieberman-style strategy, where she courts the right wing to win the general election.

News from Afghanistan–that little-noticed disaster

An AP article (via Firedoglake.com) reports some, well, pretty messed stuff about the shooting death of former NFL star in the Afghan backcountry.  It turns out fragging may be the cause:

‘Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.’

It appears that they’re fighting themselves over there so they don’t have to fight each other over here.

The Taliban were nowhere to be found.  No enemy bullets were found anywhere near.

Iraq and Afganistan are both going terribly, and have been for a while.  Time to withdraw from both and leave all this pointless killing behind.

Let's leave and let the Iraqis and the British deal with Sadr

The New York Times runs a worthy profile of one of Iraq’s most reclusive and powerful figures, the young Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Consistently underestimated by both Americans and the Iraqi Shia establishment personified by Ayatollah Sistani, Sadr has built on the legacy of his father (killed by Saddam in 1999) to foster a violent, fanatical, and deeply rooted nationalistic popular movement. Implanted into the culture in some Shia areas of Iraq the way Hamas’s many agencies have come to dominate Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip, Sadr’s movement (the so-called Madhdi Army) represents the grievances of many of Iraq’s poor Shias. As the Times piece notes:

‘Mr. Sadr’s offices are accessible storefronts that dispense a little bit of everything: food, money, clothes, medicine and information. From just one office in Baghdad and one in Najaf in 2003, the Sadr operation has ballooned. It now has full-service offices in most provinces and nine in Baghdad, as well as several additional storefront centers. In some neighborhoods, the militiamen come around once a month to charge a nominal fee — about 5,000 Iraqi dinars, or $4 — for protection. In others, they control the fuel supply, and in some, where sectarian killings have gone on, they control the real estate market for empty houses.’

Does anyone remember back in 2004 when Paul Bremer ordered Sadr arrested? Well, just as he remained on the loose then, the current focus on Moqtada is unlikely to rein him in any time soon.

Unless America just pulls out of Iraq. Then his own countrymen and countrywomen can deal with this guy. Sadr’s power and prestige is fed by the occupation.

America has lost Iraq. Moqtada has lived up to his father’s legacy, while George W. Bush hasn’t even met that (in his case meager) standard. Bush the son has lost Iraq. It’s not easy when even starting out, such a misconceived war could never have turned out well–and it hasn’t helped that America has been led by an idiot.

And I’m not talking about General David Patraeus. That guy is an officer, following orders, but the way he has allowed himself to be used as a political tool (and set up as a potential scapegoat) suggests that he, like Tommy Franks, might have irons in the Republican political fire.

Oh well. Time to move on. All this absurd debate about how well the “surge” has knocked down the whack-a-mole insurgency in one place like Anbar (and let’s not mention whether the situation has consequently gotten worse in Baghdad) is a bizarre waste of time that most Americans have moved beyond.

The Democrats are better than the Republicans on this, but still need to get much better. Barack Obama wants a withdrawal, it seems, but seems too cautious. Pulling out should happen overnight–those that think there is something to salvage from this ugly occupation are just indirectly arguing for more military involvement of one sort or another. Democrats should stop emphasizing how gradual a withdrawal would be–the occupation has failed to stop the bloodbath that so many American politicians still pretend hasn’t yet started (it has!!) but would happen if coalition forces withdraw (how do they know?–and haven’t they already been wrong about everything else?).

Harry Reid can keep the Senate up all night, but how about pulling out that “nuclear option” that the Republicans kept threatening to use and overruling the filibuster that keeps the war running? Screw the Senate rules–the Democrats should be able to hold the majority for the conceivable future, and anyway the Republicans have let that cow out of that barn with their threats when they were in the majority.

Bombing a bunch of stuff hasn’t worked. Come on. Gas up, fill the canteens and head for the Kuwaiti border. Let the British stay if they want–who cares. Let’s cut our losses. That’s what they are–losses.