PRESIDENT SWEETIE BARACK OBAMA'S SPEECH TUESDAY IS ALREADY GETTING THE CRITICAL REAPPRAISAL FADS DESERVE. UNMEMORABLE IS ONE OPINION, POORLY CRIBBED IS ANOTHER.
THESE REPORTERS DECIDED TO SPEAK WITH PARTY BOI AND WORDSMITH FOR BARACK JON FAVREAU. FAVREAU INVITED US TO HIS "SWINGING BACHELOR PAD" AND ASKED THAT WE STOP AND GRAB A BAG OF FRITOS AND MAYBE SOME PLAYBOYS.
WHEN THESE REPORTERS ARRIVED, AN ANXIOUS JON FAVREAU ASKED, "WHERE ARE THE SKIN MAGS?"
THESE REPORTERS INFORMED JON FAVREAU THAT WE ASSUMED HE WAS JOKING ABOUT THAT. "OH, YEAH, IT WAS A JOKE," FAVREAU SAID SOUNDING COMPLETELY UNCONVINCING.
THE "SWINGING BACHELOR PAD" WAS A DOG-RUN ROOM AND A TINY BATHROOM. THE COFFEE TABLE WAS LITTERED WITH DVD DISCS OF "KING OF QUEENS." FAVREAU EXPLAINED, "I'M A BIG KEVIN JAMES FAN."
WE NOTED THE 6-FOOT, CARDBOARD CUT OUT OF KEVIN JAMES NEXT TO FAVREAU'S STAINED FUTON.
FAVREAU, EAGER TO BE A GOOD HOST, DEMONSTRATED HOW HE LOVED TO AMUSE HIMSELF WITH THE CARDBOARD CUT OUT. "I GRAB HIM BETWEEN THE LEGS LIKE THIS," JON FAVREAU EXPLAINED, "AND CUP HIM, PRETENDING HIS HANG DOWN IS GETTING ALL TINGLY. THEN I DROP TO MY KNEES IN FRONT AND PRETEND I'M BOBBING FOR APPLES. THEN I PRETEND HE THROWS ME DOWN ON THE FUTON AND --"
WHY DID HE MAKE JOKES ABOUT PLAYBOY MAGAZINES IF HE WAS GAY, THESE REPORTERS WONDERED?
"UH-UH, I'M MAKING A JOKE NOW. YEAH, THIS IS THE JOKE. I MEAN KEVIN JAMES. WHO'D WANT TO GET IT ON WITH KEVIN JAMES? JUST COZ HE'S SO BOYISHLY HANDSOME AND SO MANLY. AND THE NUMBER ONE BOX OFFICE STAR IN THE COUNTRY. KEVIN JAMES DOESN'T INTEREST ME. NOT REALLY. NOT MOST OF THE TIME."
THESE REPORTERS BACKED AWAY SLOWLY.
Having failed to snag an invite to this week's earlier power-breakfast with the military, Nancy A. Youssef cracked open her little black book and pulled a few strings. Why McClatchy's one-time ace reported bothered is the only puzzler? What she scribbles is an insult to not only journalism but the collective intelligence as well. Gen James Conway announced (over breakfast tacos?), "The times is right for Marines to leave Iraq." Nance tosses around the name "Barack" and we're all supposed to see this as some sort "New World Coming" (sing it, Cass). Hamlet declared, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Someone needs to explain, "There was a world before this week, Nancy, and it's a well documented one." Translation? Thom Shanker (New York Times) was reporting what Nance stumbled upon and was reporting in October of 2007: "The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials." The same day Ann Scott Tyson (Washington Post) was covering the story and explaining, "The proposal, discussed at senior levels of the Pentagon last week, would have the Marine Corps replace the Army as the lead U.S. force in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops number more than 25,000 and make up the largest contingent of the NATO-led force there. . . . Marine Corps officers who have served in Iraq expressed enthusiasm for the idea, which would in essence allow the service to extricate itself from the increasingly unpopular and costly Iraq war. . . . Senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, have not publicly spoken of the issue. Officers knowledgeable of the Marine Corps' push for the new mission did not characterize it as a formal plan." August 2008, CNN quoted Conway stating, "To do more in Afghanistan, our Marines have got to see relief elsewhere." Liam Stack (Christian Science Monitor) in August noted, "American and Iraqi officials announced on Wednesday that United States forces would hand over control of the Anbar Province, the scene of some of the war's most gruesome violence, to the Iraqi military as soon as next Monday. Most of the departing US soldiers are marines, many of whom will be sent to Afghanistan, where conflict has renewed between NATO forces and a resurgent Taliban." Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) explained in November, "The Marines have long made no secret of their desire to depart from Iraq and redeploy to Afghanistan, where they were the first conventional U.S. troops in 2001 to invade the country to assist local forces in toppling the Taliban regime." And in December, Cami McCormick (CBS Radio News) reported, "The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps says it's 'high time' his troops leave Iraq and take their battle skills to Afghanistan. 'We are a fighting maching,' Gen. James Conway tells CBS News, and the fight is now in Afghanistan." None of that 15-month public history makes it into Youssef's 'report.' Nancy's too busy mouthing, "Now I have a song inside, The birds sing to me, I finally can be, Free to spread my wings in harmony" (Diana Ross' "Every Day Is A New Day").
Ron Jacobs (CounterPunch) calls out the nonsense of 'noble war' Afghanistan and addresses Iraq concluding, "There are at least two antiwar protests coming up in spring 2009. If Barack Obama is not taking the path towards peace that he was elected to take by then, it is essential that those who voted for him with the understanding that US troops would be leaving Iraq (and not going to Afghanistan) attend at least one of these protests. That is what democracy really means." I've chosen that quote but, for any who don't use the link, Jacobs is absolutely not saying, "Wait until the protests." He is calling for action and calling for it right now. Military Families Speak Out is staging "The Change WE Need" from Feburary 6th to 9th in DC which will include marching from Arlington National Cementery to the White House. A.N.S.W.E.R. is among the organizations sponsoring March 21st "Bring the Troops Home Now" rally and march in DC. Dropping back to CounterPunch, Alexander Cockburn writes, "But credit where credit is due. On his second day in the White House Jimmy Carter amnestied Vietnam draft dodgers and war resisters." Then blah blah on Barack. Jimmy Carter did that, Alex? No, he sure as hell as did not do what you say he did. I guess it's easy to treat Jimmy Carter as heroic if you invent actions he never took. War resisters during Vietnam were draft dodgers and deserters. The first category -- and only the first category -- got amnesty from Carter. You can click here for CBC reporting on that (January 21, 1977) and the reaction in Canada. Also on January 21st -- and note, January 21st. Barack's praise from Alex is over Jan. 22nd. His second full day in office. Jimmy Carter pardoned draft dodgers on his first day in office -- and, yes, that is important. January 21, 1977, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report (now The NewsHour) featured a discussion on Carter's actions that day. Americans for Amnesty's Louise Ransom was vocal about all war resisters (and protestors) needing amnesty. On the broadcast was Elizabeth Holtzman who was then a US House Rep. I like Liz, I've known her for many years. But what she did is something everyone should learn from because it should not repeat today. She was "pleased" (you know it because she used the phrase "I'm pleased" three times in her first sentence) but, "I would have liked to have seen it broader, I would like to have seen it extend to some of the people who are clearly not covered and whose families will continue to be separated from them . . . but I don't think President Carter has closed the door on this category of people." She didn't think?
It's a good thing she didn't wager a bet. That was it. Carter didn't do another damn thing. And those of us calling for more were told, "We can't pressure him. He'll get to it." No, he wouldn't and, no, he didn't. It sure is cute of Alex to come along all this time later and give Carter credit for something he never did. It sure is cute of Alex to rewrite history. (In fairness, he doesn't know the history. Vietnam wasn't personally pressing to him in real time for obvious reasons -- he was Irish, not American, and when he came to the US he was well beyond drafting age for male citizens.) Credit where it's due? Jimmy Carter earns no credit for that. He did as little as possible and he only did that much because he was pressured. Ford had already offered a program (that you had to jump through hoops for) that covered draft dodgers and deserters. Carter was running against Ford and there was a real peace movement in America at that time -- not the fake crap offered by the pathetic creatures trying to pass for 'leaders' today. Demands were made on him.
That's the only reason he followed through on draft dodgers (which he had spoken of to the Veterans of Foreign Wars' convention during his 1976 presidential campaign) was because there was pressure. Gerald Ford was considering pardons for war resisters as he left office but it was thought Carter would take care of it. Carter didn't. He only took care of draft dodgers. And as wonderful as Liz Holtzman can be, she was dead wrong about America 'hoping' Jimmy would find time to revist the issue. He didn't get serious pressure and he never revisted it. There's a lesson in there for today's activism -- although that's a joke. Outside of a few groups, there's no activism going on. Just a lot of embarrassments (see Mike calling out the Center for Constitutional Rights over their fondling of Barack). History isn't just a bunch of memorized items. It either has real-life, current applications or it's trivia and not history.
Wednesday's Free Speech Radio News included this item by Mark Taylor-Canfield in the headlines:
Hundreds of US soldiers have relocated to Canada, Europe or LatinAmerica after choosing not to serve in the US war and occupation in Iraq. Many of the soldiers have gone into Canada by crossing the border between Washington State and British Columbia, which also served as a point of entry for conscientious objectors escaping toCanada during the US war in Vietnam. Now Project Safe Haven is calling on President Barack Obama to grant immediate amnesty to all US war resisters who have refused to serve in Iraq.
The group is also calling for the immediate withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq and an end to the war in Afghanistan. Other demands include reparations for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and full benefits and healthcare for US military veterans. According to Project Safe Haven organizer Gerry Condon, the petition was circulated among national anti-war and veterans groups and was delivered to the President-elect's transition team.
Gerry Condon has posted a transcript at his site and you can find out more information there. We noted here throughout 2007 and 2008 that the Democratic candidates were not being asked about amnesty. Had they been asked when US House Rep Dennis Kucinich and former US Senator Mike Gravel were in the race, others might have been forced to say they'd at least consider that or look into it. We noted after the nomination was given to Barack that he needed to be pressed on the issue of war resisters. In 1972, the peace movement pressured. McGovern had to promise amnesty and Nixon upped his lies that he was ending that illegal war because of pressure from the peace movement. McGovern didn't lose because he was forced to publicly support amnesty. And by McGovern doing that, it made it easier for Gerald Ford to do his program when he became president. The pressure on McGovern, Ford and Carter was serious pressure and it vanished on Carter shortly after he was sworn in. Barack should have been pressured on the issue sometime ago. He wasn't. That doesn't mean serious pressure can't be applied now. Especially on a president who claimed (lied) that he was always against the Iraq War and that was proof of his superior judgment. For those who lacked that superior judgment, you know, mere mortals, Barack should be more than willing to pardon them. And a real movement, a real peace movement, would be pressuring him to do so.
But we don't have a peace movement in the United States and we don't have a Dove for a president. We have a Corporatist War Hawk that people are so scared and reluctant to call out. Which, as Paul Street (ZNet) points outs, was the entire of point:
At the same time, many of his elite sponsors have certainly long understood that Obama's technical blackness helps make him uniquely qualified to simultaneously surf, de-fang, and "manage" the U.S. citizenry's rising hopes for democratic transformation in the wake of the long national Bush-Cheney nightmare. As John Pilger argued last May: "What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's [in 1968]. By offering a 'new,' young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent."
Obama's race is part of what makes him so well matched to the tasks of mass pacification and popular "expectation management" (former Obama advisor Samantha Power's revealing phrase). As Aurora Levins Morales noted in Z Magazine last April, "This election is about finding a CEO capable of holding domestic constituencies in check as they are further disenfranchised and....[about] mak[ing] them feel that they have a stake in the military aggressiveness that the ruling class believes is necessary. Having a black man and a white woman run helps...make oppressed people feel compelled to protect them."
Paul Street is the author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics -- one of three books in 2008 this community found worthy of praise. On the subject of books, Gerald Nicosia (San Francisco Chronicle) praises two new books today Aaron Glantz' The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans is the first, "What makes 'The War Comes Home' such a powerful plea is that Glantz admits his initial bias against the vets - they were the ones who caused all the misery among the poor Afghans and Iraqis. But his eventual realization that both reporter and soldier are common victims of a government that wages such wars allowed him to identify with the vets and to empathize with their struggles." Iraq Veterans Against the War and Glantz' Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations is the second, "Like 'The War Comes Home,' 'Winter Soldier' makes us feel the pain and despair endured by those who serve in a military stretched to the breaking point by stop-loss policies, multiple combat tours, and a war where the goals and the enemies keep shifting. But these books also make us admire the unbreakable idealism and hope of those men and women who still believe that by speaking out they can make things better both for themselves and for those who come after them."
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