Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barack and Rupaul

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush and President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama pause for photographs Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the Obama's arrival at the South Portico of the White House. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
Reflecting on the US election last week, former US House Rep and Senator  James G. Abourezk (CounterPunch) observes:
Of course, we all understood that Nader would not win the election, but the movement of Arab Americans away from him regrettably deprives him of the political influence he might have gained to press his positions, including his strong criticism of Israel's illegal occupation.  His voice is considerably weakened because of the movement of Arab American voters to other candidates, which is unfortunate for those Palestinians who live in desperation on a daily basis.  The same is true for the people of Lebanon and Syria who are in constant fear of being bombed by U.S. warplanes flown by Israeli pilots.  
In this election, a great many Arab American joined Obama's winning coalition, despite Obama's clear indication that he wanted nothing to do with Arabs, either Christian or Muslim.  We saw, during his campaign, that his staff prevented Muslim women with head scarves from sitting behind him in view of the television cameras during his campaign rallies.  He visited Christian churches and Jewish Synagogues, but he refused to visit even one Mosque during the campaign.  And, finally, joining John McCain, he made the obligatory bow and scrape to the Israeli Lobby -- AIPAC -- during that group's 2008 convention.  He made no attempt to hide any of these clearly pro-Israeli actions from Arab Americans.  Had he done the same toward any other ethnic group, we would expect that the group would find another electoral home for their support and their votes.  But that, apparently, is not what happened this year.  Arab Americans voted overwhelming in support of Obama, rushing right past Ralph Nader, who has articulated the community's feelings about the Israeli occupation.   
This is a continuation of the self-destructive attitude held by people of Arab descent.  We see it in the Arab world, and we see it among the Arab diaspora.  We see the urge to defeat or to overlook one of our own in favor of catering to those we think are certain to hold power.
Team Obama launched, encouraged and fed on some of the most sexist attacks the country's seen in years.  In a landscape where feminist 'leaders' rolled over and took it (with a smile!) The New Agenda was among the organizations springing up to promote self-respect and self-worth.  Amy Siskind notes that today is the quarter birthdray of New Agenda and recaps the recent history:
On Governor Palin, we noted Sunday at Third, "Palin is seen as a strong voice in the Republican Party's future so naturally the press violates all the rules to spread a whisper campaign. No, The New York Times is not supposed to allow opponents to attack someone without coming forward. Strange that when they acknowledge that policy these days, it's usually when someone in the entertainment industry threatens to sue the paper. The threat of lawsuit will always force the paper to issue one of those, 'Oops, we goofed. It is not our policy to allow character assaults to be launched by unnamed persons.' Maybe Palin should threaten to sue?" As Debra J. Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle) points out today, "It tells you everything that the Palin smear stories come from anonymous staffers.  There is no documentation.  There is no way to prove the rumors false.  Think graffiti in a junior high school girls' room."  Saunders goes on to note, "The political press corps doesn't win any awards in this episode, either.  Remember when the pack would not jump on National Enquirer stories about John Edwards' relations with Rielle Hunter and child -- because the story had not been nailed down?  It seems that there is a different standard for Palin -- to wit, anything goes."
Today the Times continues their efforts to smear Palin and Michael Cooper should be ashamed of himself.  He accuses her of "not going quietly into the sunsent" which is strange when you consider no one launched accusations like that at John Edwards who, following the 2004 election, immediately launched his 2008 presidential campaign.  He finds it shocking that "she will be given a starring role when the Republican Governors Associations meets in Miami" -- why the hell shouldn't she?  She's one of the few exctiing people that party has.  It's her or Ahnuld.  And she just came off a campaign where she packed in huge crowds. 
"She seems determined to remain highly visible," Cooper frets.  Was she supposed to die?  Was she supposed to hang her head in shame?  Exactly what does the New York Times want from Governor Palin and how long is the paper going to allow the double-standard to remain so obvious in print?  He then goes on to declare that "Palin remains popular among some Republicans, and she is still mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012."  Among some?  Jeremy P. Jacobs (PolitickerMA) reports the latest Rasmussen poll finds "64% of 1,000 likely Republican voters would support Palin over Rmoney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisian Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist" for the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.  Among some? 8% judged Palin unfavorable in the poll (that's "somewhat" and "very") while 91% judged her favorable (that's "somewhat" and "very lumped together).  This echoes Rasmussen's earlier poll this month, "Seventy-one percent (71%) of Republicans say John McCain made the right choice by picking Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, Palin has been the subject of largely critical media coverage but has attracted some of the most enthusiastic crowds of either campaign.  Sixty-five percent (65%) of GOP voters say the party picked the right nominee for president."  With Republicans, Palin was more popular than was McCain.   And that's in spire of non-stop attacks.
As soon as Palin was announced, Barack's operatives set about smearing her with one vile lie after another.  Early on, it was noted here (back in August) that we wouldn't repeat that nonsense but if Palin commented on it, we'd quote her.  She's commented on one of the big early lies, that Trig was not her son.  She did so on Fox's On the Record With Greta which has transcript and video:
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything else that has been raised or said about you in the media, either during the convention -- I mean, during the campaign or since the campaign ended, that you think you need to address that has been, you know, an allegation about you?  
PALIN: Well, unfortunately, early on, there are a tremendous number of examples that we can give regarding my record and things that could have, should have been so easily corrected if -- if the media would have taken one step further and -- and investigated a little bit, not just gone on some blogger probably sitting there in their parents' basement, wearing their pajamas, blogging some kind of gossip or -- or a lie regarding, for instance, the -- the discussion about who was Trig's real mom? You know, Was it one of her daughters or was she faking her pregnancy?     
And that was in mainstream media, the question that was asked, instead of just coming to me and -- and -- and you know, setting the record straight. And then when we tried to correct that, that, yes, truly, I am Trig's mother, for it to take days for it ever to have been corrected, that -- that kind of right out of the chute was one of the oddities of this campaign and the messaging.  
And then, too, things that, again, so easily could have been corrected about my supposed attempts to censor and ban books when I was the mayor of Wasilla. And one of the examples that they gave was that media was just sure that one of the books I tried to ban was Harry Potter. Of course, it hadn't even been written when I was the Mayor of Wasilla.
So just issues like that that just -- you know, it was -- it was mind- boggling to consider what it was that we were going to be up against, when you could see that something was written about, something was stated in the media. I knew the truth and I had the record to prove otherwise, and yet it would either take too long to unring that bell that had just been rung or there was no attempt at all to correct the record.  
That was pretty frustrating. 
That's Greta Van Sustern. We don't normally link to Fox but it was noted -- back in August -- that if Palin commented on that vile trash, we would note and otherwise we wouldn't.  She's commented.    
Barry Grey (WSWS) addresses realities and hype in the election:
Virtually without exception, liberal commentators and "left" political tendencies have ignored or downplayed all such indications that Obama intends to pursue a conservative course and reject anything that suggests a more democratic and egalitarian restructuring of American capitalism. This has been facilitated by their interpretation of the election almost entirely in racial terms. The obsession with race, which for 40 years has been the mainstay of liberal politics in America, has, if anything, been accentuated in the aftermath of the election.    
This is despite the fact that the election was a powerful refutation of the portrayal of American working people as racist, backward and hopelessly in the thrall of religion and conservative "values"--a political myth that assumed the status of an unassailable truth after the reelection of Bush in 2004.  
Typical is the column in the Sunday New York Times by Frank Rich, which begins, "On the morning after a black man won the White House, America's tears of catharsis gave way to unadulterated joy." Rich notes approvingly that the election disproved what "we've been told by those in power… that we are small, bigoted and stupid--easily divided and easily frightened." He then makes the significant admission that "We heard this slander of America so often that we all started to believe it, liberals most certainly included."
It is obvious that Rich, speaking for liberals in general, employs the same superficial impressionism, buttressed by an obsession with race, that led him to buy into the old illusions in order to embrace a new one--that Obama represents a new dawn of democracy and progress in America.     
It is legitimate to recognize that the vote for Obama would not have been possible were it not for the fact that social attitudes in America have changed profoundly over the past 50 years--something that was for all practical purposes denied by Rich and his fellow liberals. Nor is there any doubt that the movement to the left of broad sections of the working class overcame any hesitations linked to the lingering influence of racial attitudes. 
But there is a disturbing undercurrent in the response of Rich and other liberal and "left" commentators to the election. For them, it is all about race, and not about the social sentiments, policy questions and class issues that actually determined the outcome. They define the election as the victory of a black man, not the result of a wave of popular opposition to Bush and a Republican administration that lifted a candidate into the White House who happens to be black.  
On the hype machine, Roger Snyder (Greens for Greens) expresses that he's reached his saturation level:
I sorry to say I'm over it. While I was moved by the first reports of people celebrating in the streets, and can still understand the feeling that many people (many of my neighbors) have, the plethora of bad analysis and false claims has left me not wanting to hear any more.
For example:
Obama's Historic Victory by Howard Zinn
"But, as the first African American in the White House, elected by an enthusiastic citizenry which expects a decisive move towards peace and social justice, he presents a possibility for important change.
Obama becomes president in a situation which cries out for such change. The nation has been engaged in two futile and immoral wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American people have turned decisively against those wars."
No and no. What people did was vote against Bush. They didn't like him anymore, and took it out on McCain. The McCain tactic of claiming to have years of inside experience backfired when the economic went south and the voters blamed those in power for the collapse. And they couldn't tell or didn't care that Obama was no different than McCain on the economy.
And the economy was the issue. Obama was a likely loser before it came along.
Not the wars. Not social justice.
Cynthia McKinney was the Green Party's presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente was her running mate.  Unlike other presidential tickets, Cynthia regularly raised the issue of the prison-industrial-complex and the death penalty throughout her campaign.  Gloria Rubac (Workers World) reports, "Cynthia McKinney made history in Texas Oct. 30.  Never has any politician or any candidate for public office been in Huntsville, Texas, on an execution night to join in with those protesting.  . . . As [Greg] Wright's stepdaughter stood outside of the death house holding a cell phone in one hand and a framed photo Wright in the other, McKinney approached her and asked about the photo.  'How long has your family been dealing with fighting this execution?  Did you ever think that your family would ever have to deal with the issue of the death penalty in such a personal way?'  McKinney listened to Misty Smith explain that they had been fighting to prove Wright's innocence for seven or eight years and that never did she think she and her mother would be going through this injustice."
Meanwhile Laura Carlsen (CounterPunch) reports that "Latin American leaders still aren't running to the mountaintop to proclaim the dawn of a new era in U.S. relations.  The response can be characterized more as hope seen through the ever-leery eye the contintent keeps on its northern neighbor.  The U.S. government has a long way to go to undo the damage done to its relations and its repuations through decades of both Republican and Democratic presidencies.  Latin American leaders placed conditions and qualifications on their congratulations.  Lula in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia called for an end to the 'unjustifiable' embargo against Cuba.  Morales added a demand for withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.  Mexico's Felipe Calderon sent a brief congratulatory note, calling for strengthening bilateral relations and emphasizing the role of Mexican-Americans in the elections and the U.S. economy.  This was his way of insisting on action toward legalizing the status of Mexican immigrants and creating legal frameworks for future immigration flows."
Dr. Elias Akleh (Information Clearing House) evaluates the realities of the upcoming Obama presidency:
Obama is no different. He will soon be exposed the person he really is; just another wolf in sheep clothing. Obama's promises to protect the middle class are just empty promises. This was obvious after he approved the $700 billion (plus interest) bailout to give more tax money to corrupt bankers, who will use that money to buy weaker banks. The money should have been used to pay portions of the mortgages the middle class owe to the banks, so they could keep their homes. His acclaimed tax cut promise to the middle class means nothing to its unemployed members. The official unemployment rate is 6.5% not counting those, who are not receiving unemployment benefits and are thus not counted. In 2008 alone Americans have lost 1.2 million jobs to outsourcing. Obama's solution to outsourcing is offering corporations tax cuts as incentives to keep the jobs in the US. Such incentive is nothing compared to the huge savings, in the forms of benefits and retirement funds the corporations are saving by employing very cheap labor force unprotected by any labor laws in third world countries lacking any environmental laws. Obama never talked about the poor Americans. For him they don't exist.
Obama's real position concerning the unfair NAFTA agreement, that he aggressively criticized and called for its revocation, was exposed later, when it was leaked that his advisor Astan Goolsbee had called Canadian officials asking them not to take Obama's anti-NAFTA rhetoric seriously, but "... should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plan".
Herb the Verb (Corrente) takes on bigot Jasmyne A. Canick who made an ass out of herself on NPR's Talk of the Nation spewing homophobia, "She has a point, after all, since human rights are a limited resource, the more human rights your group gets, the less my group gets.  She didn't say whether that also translates to brown people, women, etc., but it isn't a stretch to assume that it does."  (Herb the Verb is using sarcasm.)  And we'll close out on this topic with Media Matters (which misses the boat in their criticism):
During the November 7 edition of ABC's The View, while discussing the passage of Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and effectively overturning the California Supreme Court's May 15 ruling that affirmed the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck asserted that a "priest" in Sweden was "put in jail for not wanting to perform a marriage to a gay couple, so then they put him in jail because the law stated that you could not discriminate based on sexual preference." Later in the discussion, co-host Sherri Shepherd said: "I don't want to know that my pastor -- because, you know, the church is preaching against homosexuality, and I don't want to know that my pastor could be jailed." However, contrary to Hasselbeck and Shepherd's suggestion that as a result of the California Supreme Court's ruling -- or without the passage of Proposition 8 -- members of the clergy "could be jailed" for refusing to perform gay marriages, neither the decision by the California Supreme Court, nor Proposition 8 had anything to do with members of the clergy.
The California Supreme Court's ruling applied only to state officials. The ruling directed "state officials [] [to] take all necessary and appropriate steps so that local officials may begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples" [emphasis added]. The court itself noted the irrelevance of its decision to clergy, saying in the majority opinion that "no religion will be required to change its policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."
A) Barbara Walters brought it up.  (Media Matters has the transcript.)  It's her show.  Hold her accountable.  There was no reason for her to bring up things that weren't accurate (which was the reason Whoopi's visibly ticked off, video is posted as well).  Walters brought it up.  B) In the US, churches do not handle marriages or divorces, the government does.  You can be married in a church -- it can be a location.  You can pick someone of the clergy to preside over the ceremony; but the church itself has nothing to do with marriage or divorce in the US other than locale and ceremony.  States issue marriage licenses, states grant divorces.  That's how it works.  C) Elizabeth's tale of Sweden doesn't need to be addressed because who knows if it's true (it probably isn't) and who gives a damn?  This is the United States of America.  You don't need to fret over what Sweden did or didn't do.  In the US can someone be sued for refusing to marry a couple?  No. NO NO NO.  If they could, couples would be suing the Catholic Church which is very clear that you have a Catholic annullment (not a civil one) or a dead spouse if you plan to remarry in the Church.
And for pro-Barack talk, you can check out the Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel who will be Mike Schneider's guest tonight on Bloomber TV's Night Talk.  Watch Mike try to keep a straight face as alleged lefty Katty-van-van declares, "I could see sending Colin Powell to the middle east or to Iraq to help faciliate an exit out of Iraq or to really move on a Middle East peace process."  Yes, Katty-van-van is that silly of a prat-prat. Katty-van-van will go on to hiss, "I'm not ecstatic that there are so many Clinton administration people" but Colin Powell -- the man who lied to the UN and created his own "blot" -- she wants to bring as someone to do 'good' work in the Mid East?  Cover-up Collie, covering up for War Crimes since Vietnam?  In fairness, if Katty's saying it either her husband or her father told her to.  Since it's so outrageous, the talking points came from her father.
Laugh with Katty-van-van tonight at 10:00 PM in Europe, Asia or the US on Bloomberg TV or catch the artifical coo in stereo on Bloomberg Radio (1130 AM in NYC also on XM and Sirius) at the same time.  You can also catch Night Talk online at Bloomberg.com and click here for the podcast (or check iTunes Business News).

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