The River

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Off to Portland, Oregon, to see Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band with a lifelong buddy at the Rose Garden Arena tomorrow night. Here's hoping for some early Bruce like Incident on 57th Street or Lost in the Flood, both of which he has performed on this tour. See ya'll next week, bleary eyed but reborn.


The Portland Mercury has the scoop

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Obama's New Message, Some Foes See Old Liberalism

By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama offers himself as a post-partisan uniter who will solve the country's problems by reaching across the aisle and beyond the framework of liberal and conservative labels he rejects as useless and outdated.

But as Obama heads into the final presidential primaries, Sen. John McCain and other Republicans have already started to brand him a standard-order left-winger, "a down-the-line liberal," as McCain strategist Charles R. Black Jr. put it, in a long line of Democratic White House hopefuls.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign has also started slapping the L-word on Obama, warning that his appeal among moderate voters will diminish as they become more aware of liberal positions he took in the past, such as calling for single-payer health care and an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba. "The evidence is that the more [voters] have been learning about him, the more his coalition has been shrinking," Clinton strategist Mark Penn said.

The double-barreled attack has presented Democratic voters with some persistent questions about Obama: Just how liberal is he? And even if he truly is a new kind of candidate, can he avoid being pigeonholed with an old label under sustained assault?

Despite being rated the most liberal senator in 2007 by the National Journal, Obama has sought to confound easy categorization. While his record and platform mostly adhere to a left-leaning Democratic model, he has cast them as a common-sense response to the Bush administration. His ability to appeal to independents and even Republicans has been one of his main attractions for Democrats eager to retake the White House, and a cause for concern among some GOP leaders.

At the same time, the criticism from the McCain and Clinton operations draws a quick rebuttal from Obama's campaign. His strategists recognize that Democratic voters and the superdelegates who may end up deciding the hotly contested nomination are concerned about the electability of a candidate tagged with the "liberal" label that has fatally wounded nominees such as John F. Kerry, Michael S. Dukakis and Walter F. Mondale.

Although the article quotes more representatives from the left, the conservative bias here is easy to spot. Look at the last paragraph of the above excerpt.

Contrary to the assumption, the three previous Democratic presidential nominees noted lost because they were perceived as weak, and, it must be said, had very little charisma. They were perceived as weak because they didn't fight hard to represent the left. They were less batshit versions of their opponents. They lost because they weren't liberal enough.

Also, we don't really know if the campaign-killing power of the liberal label is what Obama's strategists "recognize." I doubt it.

Later, the author states: "Obama is vulnerable because he can point to no major area where he has broken with liberal orthodoxy,"

Apparently, both liberals and conservatives lose when they aren't conservative enough, a charge leveled against McCain earlier in the primary season.

More bias:

"This is how Obama casts his agenda on the stump. His proposals are mostly from the Democratic canon -- annual increases in the minimum wage, higher pay for teachers, a $4,000 tuition tax credit -- yet he presents them as practical solutions whose appeal should be obvious to anyone, not as the product of one end of the political spectrum."

Yeah, hard to understand the appeal of these ideas because, well, because they are "liberal." You will never see a major media outlet express the same idea about "solutions" from right. After all, the Iraq invasion and occupation are unpopular because they have been mismanaged. The actions aren't suspect because they spring from right wing ideology. They are noble and good, their appeal obvious to anyone.

Obama's problem, the article implies, is that he is out of step with this obvious truth. Unlike conservative candidates such as Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

An Election Without Meaning

by Peter Phillips / March 22nd, 2008

Will November 2008 bring a meaningful change to America? Will getting rid of George W. Bush and Richard Cheney without impeachment or indictment really make a difference? Will a 600 billion dollar war/defense budget be cut in half and used for desperately needed domestic spending? Will the ninety-three billion dollars profits in the private health insurance companies­­—those parasitic intermediates between you and your doctor—be used instead for full health care coverage for all? Will Habeas Corpus and Posse Comitatus be restored to the people? Will torture stop and the US withdraw from Iraq immediately? Will all students in public universities be able to enroll for free? Will the US national security agencies stop mass spying on our personal communications? Will the neo-conservative agenda of total military domination of the world be reversed?

The answer to these questions in the context of the current billion dollar presidential campaign is an absolute no. Instead we have a campaign of personalities and platitudes. There is a race candidate, a gender candidate and a tortured veteran candidate, each talking about change in America, national security, freedom, and the American way. The candidates are running with support of political parties so deeply embedded with the military industrial complex, the health insurance companies, Wall Street, and corporate media that it is undeterminable where the board rooms separate from the state rooms.

The 2008 presidential race is a media entertainment spectacle with props, gossip, accusations, and public relations. It is impression management from a candidates’ perspective. How can we fool the most people into believing that we stand for something? It is billions of dollars of gravy for the media folks and continued profit maximunization for the war machine, Wall Street, and insurance companies no matter who is determined the winner in November.

We must face the fact that the US government’s primary mission is to protect the wealthy and insure capital expansion worldwide. The US military—spending more than the rest of the militaries of the world combined—is the muscle behind this protect-capital-at-all-costs agenda, and will be used against the American people if deemed necessary to support the mission.


Ralph Nader: "Things Are a Lot Worse than We Thought!"

In a nutshell: Congressman's constituency demands impeachment; congressman says you can't impeach Bush and Cheney because they would respond to proceedings in that direction by attacking Iran and imposing martial law. And if you don't impeach them, they will...?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hillary's Berserker Campaign ... for 2012
Blonde Ambition
By JEFFREY ST. CLAIR, Counterpunch

Hillary Clinton can not win the Democratic nomination for president. The numbers tell the story. Even with robust victories in Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, Hillary will trail Obama in popular votes and pledged delegates as they enter the convention hall in Minneapolis.

Any other candidate would have been shamed into dropping out long ago. But these are the Clintons and they have no shame.

So why does Hillary persist? Because she hasn't abandoned her aspiration for the White House. Not in 2008, but for 2012. Here's the perverse logic at work.

If Obama defeats McCain in November, it will take an act of treachery beyond anything even the Clintons have ever conjured from their grimoire of political demonology for Hillary to challenge him in 2012. She will be 69 in 2016, almost ready to move into one of the Beverly Nursing Homes, owned by a company she once represented as a corporate lawyer, aggressively protecting the bottom line against such extravagances as healthy meals, clean sheets and proper medical care for the elderly.

Hillary Clinton is the prisoner of an unimpeachable mathematics. So she makes the most of a remorseless situation by doing what the Clintons do best: commit political fratricide. Quite literally, in this case, by knocking off a brother.

In order to realize her vaulting ambition, Hillary must mortally wound Obama as candidate in the fall race against John McCain so that she can run against McCain in 2012.

McCain is at best a one term president. The signs of this are as clear as the scar jagging down his face. McCain, whose resemblance to Lon Chaney becomes eerier by the day, is already an old man, older than Reagan when he was first elected. He is plagued by a cancer he refuses to speak about, a war he refuses to end and an economy that is collapsing beyond the point of recovery. Add to this prospectus, the fact that McCain is prone to the most self-destructive impulses of any American politician since Aaron Burr. His political fate will be sealed before he even swears his oath.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Inequality, If You Can Keep It: The Demise Of Manifest Ethnicity

By Marc Lord


"Barack Obama" the man, the myth, the motor-mouth, he knows who and what he is. He's keenly aware of his symbolism, no one more so, and his ambition is to use it to further a civil liberties agenda. (Hillary Clinton said, "It took a white man to make the Civil Rights Act." Yes, emphatically, these clan robes do make us look racist.) He has the temerity to wholeheartedly believe in a more perfect union, knows he is the embodiment of it, and knows equity will not be granted by a white president. We have a windmill-tilting Leveller, a Cinderella triple-threat to the established order, a Constitutional scholar who sees the document as a cooperative, iterative process on our hands. The only reason we keep looking the gift horse in the mouth is we've been trained to think one's no longer possible, we wouldn't deserve it if it were, and equity is communism.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Horrifying: Obama's Brilliant Speech Of Hope And Unity Scares Me Half To Death

By Winter Patriot


Inevitably, many people are still trapped in the web of lies. And here I don't mean just the lies of the Bush administration, or the lies of the past generation of Republicans. These lies may be vile and critical, exceptionally vicious and ubiquitous -- but they are only the most recent examples.

I mean the lies about America -- lies about the role we play in the world, lies about the role we should play in the world, lies about who we support and why, lies about who controls the levers of power and why.

These lies are bought and sold by "leaders" of both major parties, and they've been doing it for more than a century. So if we think we can get beyond them quickly, or do so simply by voting for one party over the other, we are sadly mistaken.

We are in effect doubly trapped: we couldn't change the government by voting even if we wanted to, but most of us are so ill-informed that we don't really want to.

So how do we change that?

First and foremost, we need to focus on the truth and discard the lies. Barack Obama and his eloquent speech are not helping in this regard.

Rather than repudiating his pastor, he should have repudiated his foreign policy advisor.

Rather than distancing himself from a man who spoke the truth, he should have purged his staff of war criminals.

But Barack Obama will never do that, because he is a "serious" candidate for President of the United States. And that means that though he may show some courage by wading into the verboten field of "race in politics", he still has to embrace all the most important official lies, and he still has to reject anyone in his life who threatens the official fiction.

This is not the path to change. It is the road to hell.

But if Barack Obama were any less anxious to follow it, he wouldn't be in the position he's in today -- black or white, male or female.

To which I would add: Is there any excuse for the following words justifying the "conflict in the Middle East," i.e. U.S. and Israeli aggression, from Obama's speech on race relations:

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

Just words?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Google News:

Report: Bin Laden accuses pope, threatens Europeans
USA Today - 1 hour ago
CAIRO (AP) - Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden accused Pope Benedict XVI of helping in a "new Crusade" against Islam and warned in a new audiotape of a "severe" reaction for Europeans' publication of cartoons seen by Muslims as insulting Islam's Prophet ...

Bin Laden Threatens Europe -- Washington Post

Vatican Blasts Bin Laden's Claim of Pope's Anti-Islam 'Crusade' --FOXNews

October 29, 2004 speech by Osama bin Laden, member of rich family close to the Bushes:

"The White House policy, which strove to open war fronts so as to give business to their various corporations — be they in the field of armament, of oil, or of construction — also helped in accomplishing these astonishing achievements for Al-Qa'ida. It appeared to some analysts and diplomats as though we and the White House play as one team to score a goal against the United States of America, even though our intentions differ." [my emphasis]

This is amazing timing, coming on the heels of the Iraq invasion/occupation's fifth anniversary, which allowed Cheney and Bush to provide high-profile War on Terra soundbites.

As if both invasions had an anything to do with fighting the supposed enemy of said terror war, the moslty media/CIA fictional creation Al Qaeda. Two thirds of Americans don't buy it and want us out within two years. But hey, here's the Al Qaeda leader making headlines. They're still on the offensive, threatening white Christian Europeans just like us. Better stay the course.

Chalk it up to excellent teamwork.

(supporting links courtesy of Mike Golby; poll links courtesy of Google)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Click for the IVAW Winter Soldier videos. I heard some of the testimony on Democracy Now yesterday. Real heroes.

This is a controversy tailor-made for the, it's just not funny anymore. Millions in the streets is about the only thing that would work.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

John McCain's Pastor

In the video, McCain proudly accepts the endorsement of John Hagee, an end-times evangelist, attack Iran enthusiast, Israel-firster, gay hater, and all around power-trippin angry white God worshipper.

From Wikipedia:
On the September 18, 2006, edition of National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Hagee stated that Hurricane Katrina was an act of God, punishing New Orleans for "a level of sin that was offensive to God". He specifically referred to a "homosexual parade" that was held on the date the hurricane struck and that this was proof "of the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans" [1] , even though the Southern Decadence parade was scheduled for the following week and the primary gay neighborhoods, the French Quarter and the Marigny, were spared the flooding and destruction. Another reason for God's wrath, Hagee claims, was the Bush administration's pressure on Israel to abandon settlements and the land associated with them. Therefore, God took American land in a tit for tat exchange during Hurricane Katrina.

It's a controvery tailor-made for the liberal media...oh, er, nevermind.

By the way, I caught a little of a Lou Dobbs show the other night where he had several political pundits kicking around the latest campaign developments. Boy, do they hate Democrats. Even the supposed left-leaning individuals conveyed a lukewarm, if not hostile, attitude toward the Democratic party. Anything left of center to the left of center-right is alien, incomprehensible territory.

Not a good sign.

video via Jesus General

Friday, March 14, 2008

I don't get it either

(One from the Arthur Silber's blog archives)

Once again, the leading liberal bloggers profess utter bafflement in response to the Democrats' actions. Several days ago, Atrios wrote:

Don't Get It

I'm really not sure why the Dems are even bothering to pretend (or, jeebus, not pretending) to take Bush seriously on this FISA stuff. He's been breaking the law for years.

Yesterday, in a post decrying the great haste with which the Democrats moved to accede to the administration's demands [for more domestic surveillance powers] (which is, I note again, precisely what the Democrats did with regard to the MCA [Military Commissions Act]), Digby said -- with "Deep, Heavy, Sigh" (just so we know exactly how distressed she is):

Obviously, I'm not the only one who can't for the life of me figure out why the congress is doing this.

I suggest we take these leading lights of the progressive blogs at their word: they most certainly do not get it, and they absolutely cannot "for the life of [them] figure out why the congress is doing this."

I also note that, following the Senate cave-in, Atrios has dubbed Harry Reid the "Wanker of the Day." Will all this diminish in even the smallest degree Atrios's, or Digby's, or any other leading progressive blogger's efforts to ensure a huge Democratic victory in 2008? Of course not.

The reason for that is very simple, and it goes to the progressives' central articles of religious faith: The Democrats aren't really like this, not in their heart of hearts. The Democrats don't actually favor a repressive, authoritarian state. The Democrats are good, and they want liberty and peace for everyone, everywhere, for eternity, hallelujah and amen.

People who continue to believe this have evicted themselves from serious political debate, and they have willingly made themselves slaves to their enthusiastically embraced self-delusions. They confess a comprehensive ignorance of history, a stunning inability to understand the political developments of the last century, and a desire to place the story they have chosen, primarily because it flatters their own false sense of vanity and self-worth, above every relevant fact.

-- Arthur Silber

Friday, March 07, 2008

Eddi Reader -- Simple Soul

Just heard this in a coffee shop. Funny story about Eddi. First, as big of a fan as I am, I don't own any of her albums. I did own a Fairground Attraction CD way back when, but I think I must have traded it in back in my struggling retail worker days. But back when I had left those beat and evil days (good times) and was working in trade magazines, I was lucky enough to be sent to a trade show in Birmingham, UK. During a night off, I dragged my co-worker to a bookstore. While browsing the books, I heard music playing that didn't sound piped in. I followed my ears up stairs and there was Eddi playing to a crowd of about 75 people. It was, of course, fantastic and serendipitous to boot.

Then it went beyond serendipity to harmonic convergence. I spent the weekend in London on my own as a tourist. So I'm enjoying one of those doubledecker guided excursions through the city when I decide to hop off. What do I see immediately upon hopping off but a sign in a bookstore window saying Eddi was going to be playing there in a few hours. My simple soul must have known something I didn't.

I think I'll listen this time and add some Eddi to my music collection, that is if I can stand all that beauty.