The River

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Surge: An 08 Election Ploy

A theory

The plan:

Dial back on fomenting civil war, ethnic cleansing and creating ethnic enclaves. Pay Sunni insurgents to cease attacks.

Announce a "surge" in troop levels and wait for Democrats to oppose it, due to pressures to de-escalate and withdraw among constituency.

Implement surge, knowing opposition will be for show only.

Create general impression that Iraq is "over," violence is down, progress, etc.

Attribute "success" to "The Surge!" (Hoo-wa!).

Hammer Democratic opponents as wrong on Iraq, disrespectful of brilliant generals and of troops on the ground, and bascially unable to win the war in Iraq and the "war on terror." (see: "I know how to win wars" line by McCain).

Whether by luck or design, the narrative is set, the trap sprung. (shades of 9/11, the "new Pearl Harbor").

Yet another example of the political advantages enjoyed by war demagogues.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obama is our only choice

Even though John Kerry barely distinguished himself from the neocon positions in 2004, I wanted him to win. The slogan was “anybody but Bush,” and that captures the country’s desperation to get out from under the shallow fratboy’s shadow and to dislodge his disgusting criminal friends and handlers.

John Kerry did win, just as Al Gore did in 2000. But the election was awarded to Bush again, and this time we knew what we were in for – four more years of terror warmongering, constitution shredding, economy screwing, and general empowerment of ignorance across the land.

Like many, I wasn’t so much for Kerry as I was against Bush. So when Kerry windsurfed his way through the campaign, failing to defend himself from attacks or to assert liberal values, and then topped that off by ignoring the scandalous discrepancy between exit polls and vote counts in Ohio, I was incensed. Like Gore, he never really stood for anything. He was a cipher, a cardboard cutout for the Republicans to run over with the smug assurance that the country was theirs.

And yet, we had to have him in the White House. Bush had to be repudiated. Even though Kerry is no champion of the people, and is in fact far from it, his defeat felt like a cold slap of triumph for all things small, ugly and pig ignorant. It was a dark day when the votes were finalized.

Four years later, we’re at the same precipice, coming to understand that empires fall in a series of stomach-turning drops, not all at once after an election. And yet once again, there is the feeling that we can’t survive another four years of right-wing braying and wallowing in the gutter. Although we made it through the last four, that’s small consolation to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. And there’s the rub, because a Kerry presidency would have featured the same pain of occupation. But as much as we’d like a president to implement full withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by reparations and diplomacy, it’s not going to happen. Our political and general culture can’t support that kind of drastic redirection. There’s no general will, or at least it is not apparent in the populace.

When I step back and look at this situation, I see two contradictory courses of action open to us. One is to abandon the Democratic party, support the third party of your choice and other independents, and make the Democrats pay for their collusion with the drift to the right and the emasculation of the left. They are too comfortable with the system the way it is – corporate control of government and media leading to poor government, gutted regulations, and a vicious dumbing down and coarsening of our country. Their strategy seems to be to pretend to represent the people hurt by this while also pretending that there’s nothing they can do, because, after all they have to get elected in this deplorable environment. And who else is going to do anything about it?

With that kind of strategy, they have a perpetual lock on voters who just want to make the pain go away. There’s no need to actually work to enact changes that can accomplish that, and in any case, that is a risky course, because it requires action and leadership, while the faux fighter pose only requires acting ability and the machinery to rake in corporate campaign loot. After all, even if many see through the charade, where are they going to go? It’s a two-party system, us or them.

The other course is the one so ridiculed by progressives, myself included, and that is to get Democrats elected and hope they can begin to move the country back to socially conscious government regulation and, it is dreamed, a just foreign policy.

In the Ralph Nader candidacy, I see both strategies at work. Nader is trying to keep the idea of independent and alternative views alive, and he is running for President not as a spoiler or because his ego demands such ultimate gratification, but as a figurehead for grassroots organizing. And if Democrats are ever going to abandon rope-a-dope and start swinging, he is both pressuring them to do so and building a structural and cultural foundation for its manifestation.

In some ways, Obama is also building such a foundation, with his impressive organizing across all 50 states. And in his rhetoric, he is a liberal spokesman. Nader calls him the best liberal evangelist we’ve had in 50 years. But Nader also points out he has done little to back up the vision he paints. Perhaps he wants to and this is his way forward. Marc Lord pens an essay that makes a solid case for the Obama approach, pointing out that he is already setting a new, less batshit course for our foreign policy, although still characterized by oil lust and Israel appeasement.

But at present I support Nader, as it is a way to show there are those in this country that will back a representative that articulates and fights for a type of society that respects and supports people of all economic levels and beliefs. And yet I will also relish an Obama victory in November. I know that is contradictory, but an Obama victory will be regarded as a defeat for right wing extremists, and they must lose. Rightly or wrongly, Obama is a liberal standard bearer. So I will cast my vote for him.

(On a Diebold machine that is easily compromised, and there again is the conundrum, because what Democrat has done anything about it?)

As soon as I leave the polling place, I’ll continue to try to find a way to make my efforts on the ground lead to a better world, with the hope that it makes it that much more likely that at some point in a future I can’t see, a leader of a party, any party, takes steps to bring this country at least a little closer to its enormous promise.


A letter to Joe Bageant mines the same vein.

Monday, July 28, 2008

But at least they're not Republicans

The Democratic Party is responsible for the demise of the left in America.

By demonizing real left candidates like Nader, instead of adopting his policy ideas, this incredibly corrupt party became a cynical version of the Republicans, only more menacing and hypocritical.

tetti_tatti July 28th, 2008 1:51 pm

-- Americans Move Left, New York Times Misses It by Jeff Cohen, Common

Sunday, July 27, 2008

On the ease of fooling adults

I keep my kids shielded from the big bad world of politics, power, and corruption, but this morning my older daughter, 8, was looking at the infamous New Yorker cover and I explained it to her and to her sister, 6. I gave them a straightforward explanation of what the idea behind it was. They both, without prompting or propagandizing, were aghast, although one did note that the New Yorker was known for silly covers.

So, in the context of our discussion of presidential politics and the "war on terror" I felt compelled to mention Sept. 11. The older one had heard of it, but the younger I don't think had. After I explained that the man in the framed picture on the New Yorker cover was Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, my youngest asked, "has he been arrested?"

And that simple, direct and logical question, and the fact that it has never been central to our politics or to our 9/11 response tells you everything you need to know about how completely the whole world has been taken in by the Big Lie, the "war on terror."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Asked and answered

A couple of weeks ago, in response to the infamous "Obama the secret terrorist" New Yorker cover, I asked:

If a cable newscaster wonders aloud whether McCain is senile old fool, would a magazine be engaged in satire by publishing a cartoon showing McCain as a drooling dunce?

What if the same news channel was notorious for implying McCain is too old and unable to keep up with the pace of change, is it satire to illustrate McCain as feeble and infirm?

Here's your answer.

Maybe I overreacted. The McCain cover is pretty funny. The illustration doesn't make any sense on the cover of the National Review and it is tasteless, but since it lampoons McCains disregard for the Constitution and his devotion to the Bushies, it works for me.

The Obama hit parade

Obama will be better than McCain but will change little. He will, however, be great for the right wing and its corporate media. In our politics, we're always on a war footing, and Obama, due to his strength as a politician, will be red meat for conservatives and the mass manipulators who will stoke the hatred (and jealousy at his skills) by blaming all of America's coming economic woes on the Democratic president and his party.

I can't wait for 2012.

But for right now, I invite you to read John Pilger's "Obama, The Prince Of Bait-And-Switch" in which he writes:

In the New York Times on 14 July, in an article spun to appear as if he is ending the war in Iraq, Obama demanded more war in Afghanistan and, in effect, an invasion of Pakistan. He wants more combat troops, more helicopters, more bombs. Bush may be on his way out, but the Republicans have built an ideological machine that transcends the loss of electoral power – because their collaborators are, as the American writer Mike Whitney put it succinctly, "bait-and-switch" Democrats, of whom Obama is the prince.

When others on the comment thread agree with Pilger, an Obama supporter responds:

Here we go again. The peanut gallery of armchair politicians on what they would do if running for president.

First of all, Obama would never have made it this far if he ran on a Ron Paul platform. Honorable, yes. But will it get you the job? No.

Obama will do whatever it takes to win the election. Once in office, he can change what he wants - within limits of executive privilege.

Just as Bush made promises - as does every other candidate - once in office, he shocked us all with his rush to war, setting up friends in critical positions, doing every criminal act possible short of actual murder and doing next to nothing that he promised.

Frankly, being a black man running for the highest office, Obama has to tread carefully through the landmines, nooses and pitfalls. It's a miracle he got this far.

What he is doing now is gaining as much support as possible to win an election that is most likely rigged. He will have to win by a landslide.

The peanut gallery would best support our democratic candidate by ceasing the divisiveness of the party. He's not perfect, but he's our best chance right now. If he wins this election, I think we will have a better chance of survival.

Right now, we have one foot dangling over the cliff. Bashing Obama will definitely send us crashing over the cliff...
deepseas | 07.24.08 - 7:04 pm | #

This peanut has seen who Obama is and who he works for and with (he's a communist and wasn't even born in this country!! kidding), and has no illusions.

The need to break up the two wings of the one corporate party charade is well documented by Jesus del Norte at Church and Empire. Go read it, but I'll give you the concluding graph:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be ended, and future wars prevented, only through a decisive and irreparable break with the Democratic Party and the independent mobilization of the American and international working class in a struggle against war and the capitalist system that is its root cause.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Addressing the issues of the American people

Ralph Nader understands class warfare

And his legacy will be one of a true champion of the people.

Here's some of what he had to say on Meet the Press on February 24. (These are rough notes.)

When asked by Russert how he could run again and court the possibility of helping a Republican to win, he laughs and points out there’s no way Democrats can lose this year and if they do they should pack it up and go home.

He characterized his candidacy as quest to broaden the debate on the issues that matter to the American people.

He said he respects Obama, but said one should give much more weight to the record and not the speeches and web site. In examining his voting record, it is clear that Obama has not challenged corporate power and hasn’t shown the fortitude to stand up to the corporate powers and get things done for the American people, says Nader.

He lamented that there is no debate on the bloated military budget or how to pay for foreign adventurism. He noted that Truman proposed universal health care in 1950 and we still don't have it. And it's never mentioned in the campaign.

And five months ago he was pointing out the problems that lead to economic disasters such as out of out of control gas prices, noting that our tax system includes perverse incentives that reward the speculators on Wall Street. Why aren’t we taxing speculation on Wall Street (which would help reign in or recoup the speculation that is responsible for a significant portion of the price increase - ed.). And why instead do we heavily tax human labor and sales tax necessities like food and appliances and clothing.

People are losing their houses while wall street speculators laugh all the way to the bank, Nader said.

Video also available here

McCain’s confusion on Iraq goes from embarrassing to scandalous

The Carpetbagger Report
Posted July 23rd, 2008 at 8:10 am

It doesn’t much matter what the root cause of John McCain’s confusion is. Maybe he’s confused because he’s old. Perhaps he’s pretending to be confused to impress the Republican base. It’s possible he’s confused because he just isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box. I don’t know, and frankly, don’t much care.

Whatever the source, the bottom line remains the same: when it comes to Iraq, John McCain is hopelessly incoherent about the basics. To be sure, geo-political crises can be complicated, but McCain isn’t flubbing policy minutiae at an advanced seminar on foreign policy. As of yesterday, he doesn’t seem to even know what the surge is.

Kate Couric: Senator McCain, Senator Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What’s your response to that?

McCain: I don’t know how you respond to something that is as– such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history.

Remember, according to McCain, he’s an expert on foreign policy. The basis of his entire presidential campaign is his ability to handle matters like the war in Iraq, and the notion that his unparalleled expertise makes him uniquely qualified.

Except the man is shockingly confused, and embarrasses himself more and more with each passing day.

These comments to Couric may be the single most striking mistake any presidential candidate has made in years. In 1976, Gerald Ford said, during a nationally televised debate, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” It was a bizarre error that contributed greatly to his defeat.

And McCain not understanding what the basics of the surge is at least as dramatic.

The surge has, after all, become the raison d’etre of McCain’s entire presidential campaign. Why would he announce his belief that the surge prompted the Anbar Awakening? McCain wasn’t on the campaign trail in late 2006 and early 2007. He was in the Senate, presumably paying attention to current events, and helping push the Bush administration’s policy.

As has become far too common lately, McCain has the entire story backwards.

In 2006, Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, explained in September 2006 — months before Bush even decided to launch the surge — that the Awakening was already underway.

Spencer Ackerman, noting MacFarland’s remarks, added, “For McCain to say that the Anbar Awakening is the product of the surge is either a lie or professional malpractice for a presidential candidate who is staking his election on his allegedly superior Iraq judgment.”


Monday, July 21, 2008

McCain gets $1,930 a month from 'broken' Social Security system

San Francisco Business Times

Republican presidential candidate John McCain cashes his monthly Social Security checks despite calling the federal program "a disgrace," the Associated Press reports.

"I'm receiving benefits," McCain told campaign reporters, but added, "the system is broken."

In 2007, he received benefits of $23,157 from Social Security, approximately $1,930 a month. The maximum monthly benefit under Social Security is $2,185. Social Security benefits are determined by age at retirement.

McCain, who is 71, has received benefits since he was 65.

Last week, McCain told observers at a town-hall meeting in Portsmouth, Ohio, "Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers ... and that's a disgrace." [so the system, working the way it was designed to work and which is one of the most effective and popular government programs in history, is a "disgrace." Is McCain actually dumber than Bush?]

B.J. Jarrett from the Social Security Administration said that individuals can refuse retirement benefits.

In 2006, McCain's wife Cindy earned $6 million, and has a net worth of approximately $100 million.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dancing Narcissus Timelapse

I was looking for this song I heard on "Good Morning Blues" called "Camioux" by Boozoo Bajou. This appears to be the song without the vocal track. Pretty cool. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

This is satire:

Unfortunately, when Obama is President, we'll be able drag this week's New Yorker cover out, tweak it a bit to show that the violent ideology flies under an intact, not burning, American flag, and it WILL work as satire. After all, obama, like Bush, doesn't seem to have any problem with using terror to try to subjugate a region to the fundamentalist tyranny of so-called American interests.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Missing the mark

If a cable newscaster wonders aloud whether McCain is senile old fool, would a magazine be engaged in satire by publishing a cartoon showing McCain as a drooling dunce?

What if the same news channel was notorious for implying McCain is too old and unable to keep up with the pace of change, is it satire to illustrate McCain as feeble and infirm?

The answer, of course, is no. It's just tasteless and insulting.

The confusion is caused by the fact that we all know satire amplifies situations so that their absurdity stands out. But you completely miss the mark if you leave out the source of the stupidity! It's like "Spinal Tap" without the rock band. It's like handing a bully a baseball bat. Ha, you think, this will really show what a bully this person is. Bully proceeds to do great damage with the bat, at which point you proudly state, "see? he's a bully."

Meanwhile, people are wondering which party is more despicable, the bully or the one helping him.

And that's how this week the New Yorker proved itself dumber and more dangerous than Fox News, one of the ostensible targets of its cover for asking if a Michelle and Barack Obama gesture was a "a terrorist fist jab?"


A sample from the comments an ABC News blog showing just how effectively the "satire" wounded its intended targets:

This is no different than the thousands of distortions President Bush has had to endure as POTUS.

Both Obamas are totally immature and miniscule political animals if they let this bother them. Then again, after all the truths of the Obamas have come to light these last several months, the depiction seems accurate enough. They have far too much to hide from the electorate.


I live in Illinois and I can't say whether or not the cover has it right or wrong. I don't know anything about Obama before his run for president. I have a hard time picturing Obama enjoying himself on an Illinois farm, driving a tractor or feeding the pigs. Just can't picture it.





Exposes what the Obamas are truly about.

I'm sending this to all my friends and coworkers.


I don't think this cover is satire, I think it's foreshawdowing.

I bet the cover wins awards for showing the Obama's the way they are. Hip Hip Hooray! Hip Hip Hooray!!


Barry Blitt [the illustrator] is a hero!


For anyone who doesn't get the problem with the New Yorker cover and thinks "the chance any one with grey matter could see this cover and "take it seriously" approaches zero." as someone said at A Tiny Revolution, here's an explanation from Labiche on the same thread:

I get daily missives from people that I work with along the lines of, "Anything but Hillary or Obama,", "This Country Really, Really needs to exterminate the libruls", "We're having socialism imposed on us", "The islamofascists are winning", etc.

This type of "irony" has an effect on them:

1. It reinforces the views they already hold of an Obama America. Don't think so? How many people still think that Iraq had something to do with 9/11? Associations develop in the darnedest ways and they're hard to expunge no matter the evidence.

2. They take it as an insult and slight that another Liberal NY media is mocking them and what they perceive as their serious concerns. Not important what they think? As long as they have plans to "exterminate the libruls", start shooting at random or dick with the Diebolds, it is important.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Great argument for supporting Ralph Nader

This is a post by Bill Nerin from

I have been supporting Nader all along and today will give some more.

We humans live in systems as all living creatures do. And these systems either work for us or against us.

Today our political, economic, environmental, health and civil systems are in disrepair, if not irreparably broken. When my complex plumbing system in my home is broken, it can either be repaired or needs to be replaced.

I have come to the conclusion that some of our systems need to be replaced; they are beyond repair.

The growing wealthy one to two percent of nation together with the powerful national and international corporations run this country. They are in control of our vital interests. And they buy and own our politicians, be they Republicans or Democrats. They own the propaganda machine called the mass media.

Through this powerful combination they are able to sell, persuade, delude the masses to work against their own well being. They sell us that our living is good, and if not quite so good, it will certainly improve tomorrow with a tweak here and a twist there. And in doing so the heads of corporations remunerate themselves up to some 513 times greater than their lowest employees and make sure their taxes are lowered. Their salesmanship through their propaganda machine has convinced Americans that someday "I can be that rich."

In all this they are clever enough to "give bread to the people" so there will not be a revolution. However on the other hand sometimes their greed and sense of power often lead them into stupidity as exemplified by King George III of England whose actions aroused the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. (Ironically, our white European Founding Fathers, in their own blindness did the very same thing in occupying by force the land of the Native Americans, actually calling them "merciless Indian Savages" in the fourth to last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Yes, that's true as I read the entire Declaration this Fourth of July! In reading it I could substitute "Indian" or "African Slaves" in the place of all the "we" in the Declaration of Independence and it would also have made perfect sense.)

Have the powerful of our nation finally succumbed to the kind of stupidity of King George III. Not yet, I think, but close to it as symbolized by the new George the Bush they put into power in 2000 and 2004. It is interesting how some of the more intelligent conservatives are now trying to correct some of Bush's abuses, the latest being the effort of James Baker and Warren Christopher to make it harder for a President to march off to war by seducing the Congress. Are they afraid that the populace has reached their limits and "the bread" is getting scarce? They do not want a revolution to upset their apple cart.

I have finally come to the conclusion that the current two party system is now broken beyond repair. A new Party is needed; Independents are needed. I have been leaning toward that conclusion with the Democrat's refusal to hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their criminal actions. But the final blow came today when the Democrats, including Obama who has been turning right center since he won the Primary, caved in on the FISA bill. I have no hope for these two Republican and Democratic Parties. As I said earlier, the moneyed interests of our country have bought them. This country is on a downward spiral. The Republicans and Democrats of the 70's held Nixon accountable for behavior far less egregious than that of the present President. Today I heard on the news that the approval for Congress is in the single digits; a first I think since such polls have been taken!

So what do I do? I will vote for Nader. His life has been consistent with his words!

I fear not an Obama loss to McCain; I fear not such a loss will fill the Supreme Court with the likes of Alito and Roberts. If the Democrats in Congress wanted to, they could reject, reject and keep on rejecting nominees till the President sends a balanced jurist for the position. If the Dems don't then it will show again how broken beyond repair the two Party System is. Then let Brown vs. Bd. Of Ed. be overthrown; let women's choice be overthrown; let the trend toward deregulation continue - then the day will come, as with the Founding Fathers that conditions will be so intolerable that the masses will arise from their stupor and a new American Revolution will occur.

Electing Obama is like giving a pill for pain relief to a dying body.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The times, they got too ironic

I was looking at my archives (yes, I do that now and then, dude used to write all kinds of stuff), and was reminded of the Ironic Times.

So, there's the link. You know what to do. It's worth the trip. Sample:

Human Rights Concerns Won’t Keep
Bush From Olympics Opening

China ignores violations, grants him visa.

Report: Biofuels Have Raised
Global Food Prices by 75%

Suggests we look for ways to convert biofuels to food.


And more humor from Reconstitution:

Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Presidency