Tuesday, November 4, 2008
......perhaps now he, along with the rest of the Republicans, will finally take better care about who THEY associate with, at the very least.
On the other hand, perhaps they're just too hopelessly wedded to the past. Maybe no matter how much of a crushing victory Barack Obama and the Democrats deliver on this glorious night, our shameless gaggle of right-wing ideologues will never, ever relent.
Pity. They tried so desperately to smear our next president by the company he kept, when all the while that crazed, dangerous elephant in the room was running amok, and will depart office fat and flush with cash, while leaving our economy and foreign policy in a shambles.
That, however, never seemed to bother Mister John McCain, only when he was caught debating with himself.
Now, however, there need be no more doubt about McCain's true character, an angry, reactionary, and regressive politician.
And in this, his political Waterloo, he can rest assured that he can turn to his old pal for comfort.
Just, the next time Johnny, be careful about the company YOU keep.
"OBAMA, BABY!!" shouted the young black man selling T-shirts, walking by my car last night as it slowly drifted into one of Northern Virginia's merciless traffic jams.
The air wasn't just filled with excitement.
It crackled. Thunderously.
Drivers were pulling their cars over in all directions along the stretch of Prince William Parkway and quickly hopping out to join the masses of people moving towards the county fairgrounds less than a mile away. It turned out that the last official "Change We Need Rally" was now in motion and the next president of the United States was there to join the Virginians in sealing the deal.
I managed to get to a quiet neighborhood nearby, parked my car, and started walking towards some townhouses in the direction of the fairgrounds.
Climbed over one large wooden fence and then found myself battling through thick brush, big thorny vines, and tall grass--all in the darkness--but trying to appreciate the adventure (and sacrifice to my office clothes) of blazing my own trail to get to Barack's Big Party. I finally made it through to the street and joined the masses as they flowed onward to the fairground gates.
Inside was a rainbow of inspiration. Americans of all ages, colors, and classes, perfectly integrated, illuminated by the same voltage line of faith. If you have been to an Obama rally, you'll know the sensation I'm talking about. When he finally appeared, the crowd of nearly 100,000 erupted as if he had whipped out a Fender Stratocaster and unleashed a barrage of lightening fast riffs.....
Now just suppose for a moment that Barack Obama was something of a rocker. Can you imagine how much energy his rapidly disintegrating bridge-to-nowhere opponents would work up in trying to manufacture that into a smear?? I have faith, though, that enough voters across the nation--and those devastating poll results bear this out--are fed up with John "I Voted 90 percent of the time with Bush!" McCain & his Alaska Sarah, the amazing barbie doll bimbo.
Sad but true, folks. These really are two desperate, unscrupulous candidates with nothing to offer but more of the same heaping helpings of Bush poison. Which explains why they take to character assassination with the verve of delirious helocopter hunters in a canned ice hunt.
As Americans go the polls today to put the finishing touches on one of the most unique and memorable presidential campaigns in history, maybe the lesson will finally be learned on how to catch the telltale stench of contemptible Republicans using the Karl Rove "Moral Bankruptcy Playbook."
Monika Robinson, where ever she is, probably gave us the best summation of the capacity of the GOP Sleaze Machine to coat election issues with the most dazzling Orwellian colors. Late in the campaign she wrote:
"I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight......
* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're 'exotic, different.'
* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.
* If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
* Name your kids 'Willow', 'Trig', and 'Track', you're a 'maverick.'
* Graduate from Harvard Law School -- you are unstable.
* Attend five different small colleges before graduating -- you are well-grounded.
* If you spend three years as a brilliant community organizer, becme the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,00 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend eight years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the State Senate's Health and Human Services Committee, spend four years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs Committees -- you don't have any real leadership experience.
* If your total resume is: local weather girl, four years on a city council and six years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, twenty months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people -- then you're qualified to becme the nation's second highest ranking executive.
* If you have been married to the same woman for nineteen years, while raising two beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches -- you're not a real Christian.
* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and then left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month -- you're a Christian.
* If you teach responsible, age-appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control -- you are eroding the fiber of society.
* If, while governor, you staunchly adovocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant -- you're very responsible.
* If your wife is a Harvard Graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family -- your family's values don't represent America's.
* If your husband is nicknamed 'First Dude', with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA -- your family is extremely admirable.
.....Okay, then.....much clearer NOW."
Yep, it sure is.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Alas, as it turned out, the only news on The Shrub that day was his reality check with some very vocal protesters at Monticello, while swearing in new citizens.
Imagine that--having the worst president in our history officially blessing your new American citizenship.
Of course, there's always the bright side, everyone: This was the very last time the Chief Executive Outlaw would ever have to blemish someone's new, legally-earned citizenship. The last time, for that matter, that he'll ever debase another Independence Day.
How do we love thee, Dubya?...Let us count the days....
Bush and Co-Conspirator Cheney, however, must be given credit for their astonishing achievements in at least one major policy: Evading impeachment! Yes, indeed. How many others could have matched the breath-taking level of Bush high crimes? On the other hand, considering their stunning opening night success in stealing the 2000 Presidential Election, it should be no surprise.
But as the avian flu-riddled lame duck flaps and flops his way through the dwindling days of power, the inevitable question continues to loom.
How will the history books explain these eight tortured years of the George W. Bush Regime? Good, bad, mediocre? Certainly there have been cases of presidents who were feverishly criticized while in office, but went on to be remembered for unquestioned greatness. Abraham Lincoln, Bush's fellow "war president," was obviously one of them.
Hmmmmmm......Bush, a 21st Century Lincoln??
“It would be difficult," commented one historian in a George Mason University poll earlier this year, "to identify a President who, facing major international and domestic crises, has failed in both as clearly as President Bush." "His domestic policies,” another historian in the poll noted, “have had the cumulative effect of shoring up a semi-permanent aristocracy of capital that dwarfs the aristocracy of land against which the founding fathers rebelled; of encouraging a mindless retreat from science and rationalism; and of crippling the nation’s economic base.”
A third historian in the poll was no less candid, in a chilling assessment sparing little in terms of the grand repercussions of the Eight Year Bush Plague.
“No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” he remarked, “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every hen house, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”
True, predecessor Bill Clinton was definitely no Lincoln, either. But please, you'd be pulling one hell of a stretch to find any resemblance to the suffocating moral stench exuded by Little Bush.
Surely one of the best summations came from Columbia University Professor Eric Foner, in his 2006 Washington Post commentary, "What Will History Say?"
"Ever since 1948," wrote Foner, "when Harvard professor Arthur Schlesinger Sr. asked 55 historians to rank U.S. presidents on a scale from 'great' to 'failure,' such polls have been a favorite pastime for those of us who study the American past.
Changes in presidential rankings reflect shifts in how we view history. When the first poll was taken, the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War was regarded as a time of corruption and misgovernment caused by granting black men the right to vote.
As a result, President Andrew Johnson, a fervent white supremacist who opposed efforts to extend basic rights to former slaves, was rated 'near great.' Today, by contrast, scholars consider Reconstruction a flawed but noble attempt to build an interracial democracy from the ashes of slavery -- and Johnson a flat failure.
More often, however, the rankings display a remarkable year-to-year uniformity. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt always figure in the 'great' category. Most presidents are ranked 'average' or, to put it less charitably, mediocre.
Johnson, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Richard M. Nixon occupy the bottom rung, and now President Bush is a leading contender to join them. A look at history, as well as Bush's policies, explains why.
At a time of national crisis, Pierce and Buchanan, who served in the eight years preceding the Civil War, and Johnson, who followed it, were simply not up to the job. Stubborn, narrow-minded, unwilling to listen to criticism or to consider alternatives to disastrous mistakes, they surrounded themselves with sycophants and shaped their policies to appeal to retrogressive political forces (in that era, pro-slavery and racist ideologues).
Even after being repudiated in the midterm elections of 1854, 1858 and 1866, respectively, they ignored major currents of public opinion and clung to flawed policies. Bush's presidency certainly brings theirs to mind.
Harding and Coolidge are best remembered for the corruption of their years in office (1921-23 and 1923-29, respectively) and for channeling money and favors to big business. They slashed income and corporate taxes and supported employers' campaigns to eliminate unions. Members of their administrations received kickbacks and bribes from lobbyists and businessmen.
'Never before, here or anywhere else,' declared the Wall Street Journal, 'has a government been so completely fused with business.' The Journal could hardly have anticipated the even worse cronyism, corruption and pro-business bias of the Bush administration.
Despite some notable accomplishments in domestic and foreign policy, Nixon is mostly associated today with disdain for the Constitution and abuse of presidential power. Obsessed with secrecy and media leaks, he viewed every critic as a threat to national security and illegally spied on U.S. citizens. Nixon considered himself above the law.
Bush has taken this disdain for law even further. He has sought to strip people accused of crimes of rights that date as far back as the Magna Carta in Anglo-American jurisprudence: trial by impartial jury, access to lawyers and knowledge of evidence against them.
In dozens of statements when signing legislation, he has asserted the right to ignore the parts of laws with which he disagrees. His administration has adopted policies regarding the treatment of prisoners of war that have disgraced the nation and alienated virtually the entire world.
Usually, during wartime, the Supreme Court has refrained from passing judgment on presidential actions related to national defense. The court's unprecedented rebukes of Bush's policies on detainees indicate how far the administration has strayed from the rule of law.
One other president bears comparison to Bush: James K. Polk. Some historians admire him, in part because he made their job easier by keeping a detailed diary during his administration, which spanned the years of the Mexican-American War. But Polk should be remembered primarily for launching that unprovoked attack on Mexico and seizing one-third of its territory for the United States.
Lincoln, then a member of Congress from Illinois, condemned Polk for misleading Congress and the public about the cause of the war--an alleged Mexican incursion into the United States. Accepting the president's right to attack another country 'whenever he shall deem it necessary,' Lincoln observed, would make it impossible to 'fix any limit' to his power to make war. Today, one wishes that the country had heeded Lincoln's warning.
Historians are loath to predict the future. It is impossible to say with certainty how Bush will be ranked in, say, 2050. But somehow, in his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors.
I think there is no alternative but to rank him as the worst president in U.S. history."
Prof. Foner, you have my vote. Oh, and remembering that every presidential chapter has a footnote or two, let's be sure to salute the rest of the iceberg......
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Aftermath of the Snow Storms at Baqa'a Agency Camp (1969):
Losing her tent in the winter storms of February 1969 was a major tragedy for this displaced Palestinian refugee woman who found shelter in Baqa'a emergency camp, east Jordan.
Nearly a year elapsed since this blog's inaugural posting and I've been quietly pondering a steady stream of reflections on this tumultuous planet. What do you say we fire up some something incandescent once again?
Just a few weeks ago, in mid-May, the most appalling, ignorant, and corrupt president in American history made a stopover in his very favorite client-state in the whole wide world, Israel. George W. Bush, our champion of freedom, zealous protector of all our civil liberties, was there to help toast the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Palestine.
But in all of Dubya's enlightening insights, he had time to mention the word "Palestinians" but only once. The rest was his trademark drivel denouncing "extremists." You see, he takes the popular formula Middle East myth that stars only Muslim terrorists and Israeli freedom fighters.
"The joy of independence was tempered by the outbreak of a battle," said The Shrub, "a struggle that has continued for six decades. Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy in the heart of the Holy Land."
Right. A "thriving democracy." But the details in the "building" part in that monumental year, 1948, often get so very fuzzy. Or, shall we say, so very scoffed at, attacked, or outright censored by dutiful politicians prostrate before the omnipotent Israeli lobby, American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). That's why we're grateful that a bonafide Israeli historian, Benny Morris, has generously filled in the "gaps" that Bush and too many others keep trying to bury.
Morris's latest book, "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War," will be reviewed in tomorrow's Washington Post. But it is not his first examination of what the Palestinians know not as a "joy of independence," but rather as "Al-Naqba" (The Catastrophe.)
Understandable, especially after looking at the unabridged record of events. The catastrophe's grand design can be dated all the way back to 1895, written in the diary of Theodor Herzl himself, founder of political Zionism.
"...We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border," wrote Herzl, "by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly..."
Of course, as it ultimately turned out, this "removal of the poor" ended up being a hardly discrete or circumspect bit of ethnic cleansing, not in 1948, nor in any of the other 60 years to follow.
Not by a long shot.
Morris's other seminal book on the issue, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited," was a devastating indictment of the Zionist steamroller that's been an integral part of this sixty year-old cycle of Palestinian terrorism begetting more Israeli terrorism, and on and on and on.
Morris did his homework. The bulk of his data comes directly out of the Israeli Defense Forces Archives. That's right, the actual IDF files.
In a 2004 interview with the Israeli newspaper, Haaratz, the Ben-Gurion University professor had shocking statistics exposing the brutal destruction of a nation--the Palestinian nation--which the remnents today continue crumbling under the treads of all those U.S.-supplied Caterpillar bulldozers.
An excerpt from the Haaratz interview:
RAPE, MASSACRE, TRANSFER
Haaratz: Benny Morris, in the month ahead the new version of your book on the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem is due to be published. Who will be less pleased with the book - the Israelis or the Palestinians?
Morris: The revised book is a double-edged sword. It is based on many documents that were not available to me when I wrote the original book, most of them from the Israel Defense Forces Archives. What the new material shows is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape. In the months of April-May 1948, units of the Haganah [the pre-state defense force that was the precursor of the IDF] were given operational orders that stated explicitly that they were to uproot the villagers, expel them and destroy the villages themselves.
At the same time, it turns out that there was a series of orders issued by the Arab Higher Committee and by the Palestinian intermediate levels to remove children, women and the elderly from the villages. So that on the one hand, the book reinforces the accusation against the Zionist side, but on the other hand it also proves that many of those who left the villages did so with the encouragement of the Palestinian leadership itself.
Haaratz: According to your new findings, how many cases of Israeli rape were there in 1948?
Morris: About a dozen. In Acre four soldiers raped a girl and murdered her and her father. In Jaffa, soldiers of the Kiryati Brigade raped one girl and tried to rape several more. At Hunin, which is in the Galilee, two girls were raped and then murdered. There were one or two cases of rape at Tantura, south of Haifa. There was one case of rape at Qula, in the center of the country. At the village of Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Gezer [in the Ramle area] there were four female prisoners, one of whom was raped a number of times. And there were other cases. Usually more than one soldier was involved. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg.
Haaratz: According to your findings, how many acts of Israeli massacre were perpetrated in 1948?
Twenty-four. In some cases four or five people were executed, in others the numbers were 70, 80, 100. There was also a great deal of arbitrary killing. Two old men are spotted walking in a field - they are shot. A woman is found in an abandoned village - she is shot. There are cases such as the village of Dawayima [in the Hebron region], in which a column entered the village with all guns blazing and killed anything that moved.
The worst cases were Saliha (70-80 killed), Deir Yassin (100-110), Lod (250), Dawayima (hundreds) and perhaps Abu Shusha (70). There is no unequivocal proof of a large-scale massacre at Tantura, but war crimes were perpetrated there. At Jaffa there was a massacre about which nothing had been known until now. The same at Arab al Muwassi, in the north. About half of the acts of massacre were part of Operation Hiram [in the north, in October 1948]: at Safsaf, Saliha, Jish, Eilaboun, Arab al Muwasi, Deir al Asad, Majdal Krum, Sasa. In Operation Hiram there was a unusually high concentration of executions of people against a wall or next to a well in an orderly fashion.
That can’t be chance. It’s a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres.
Haaratz: What you are telling me here, as though by the way, is that in Operation Hiram there was a comprehensive and explicit expulsion order. Is that right?
Morris: Yes. One of the revelations in the book is that on October 31, 1948, the commander of the Northern Front, Moshe Carmel, issued an order in writing to his units to expedite the removal of the Arab population. Carmel took this action immediately after a visit by Ben-Gurion to the Northern Command in Nazareth. There is no doubt in my mind that this order originated with Ben-Gurion. Just as the expulsion order for the city of Lod, which was signed by Yitzhak Rabin, was issued immediately after Ben-Gurion visited the headquarters of Operation Dani [July 1948].
Haaratz: Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?
Morris: From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.
Haaratz: Ben-Gurion was a “transferist”?
Morris: Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist.
Haaratz: I don’t hear you condemning him.
Morris: Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.
WHEN ETHNIC CLEANSING IS JUSTIFIED
Haaratz: Benny Morris, for decades you have been researching the dark side of Zionism. You are an expert on the atrocities of 1948. In the end, do you in effect justify all this? Are you an advocate of the transfer of 1948?
Morris: There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don’t think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands.
Haaratz: We are talking about the killing of thousands of people, the destruction of an entire society....
Of course, there are many in the Israeli Cheerleader Crowd that wish Morris would shut up. They don't want to be confused by facts and surely don't appreciate his unvarnished opinions, which hardly sound dovish, especially that hokum about the Israeli ethnic cleansing NOT being a war crime.
Frankly, I didn't much care for his "omelet" analogy, either. Josef Stalin said the very same thing after murdering 30 million people.
Nevertheless, keep up the good work, Benny. Maybe, just maybe, some enchanted evening enough of our Congress folks will be able to find their missing backbones and make that Israeli lobby be the one to blink. As long as they continue colonizing the West Bank while making bogus promises about a genuine two-state solution, the status que will continue.
Something has got to change, and soon. Tel Aviv is about to turn most of the leftover 22 percent of Palestine into Bantustans that would make a diehard Afrikaner blush.