Friday, March 07, 2008

Speaking of Obama Advisers…

...Samantha Powers went from a mental asset into a real liability for his campaign, and she has resigned today because of it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Obama’s Shady Advisors

LAWRENCE MARC ZELL writes in the Jerusalem Post:
“...He counts among his most significant influences his professed anti-Israel preacher, Jeremiah Wright, who openly and defiantly embraces another professed anti-Semite and Muslim, Louis Farrakhan (Obama himself agrees that Farrakhan fits the definition!). Like it or not these associations are more than relevant in a campaign for the highest office in the most powerful nation on the planet. This is especially so, when we know so little about the candidate's real policy positions.

When you are trying to determine what are a candidate's policies on a certain subject in the absence of a clear voting record or history of public activism on that topic, it is appropriate, even necessary, to look at the people with whom the candidate has chosen to consult in framing his policies. As it has been pointed out previously, Obama has not a few advisers who embrace a view of the Arab-Israeli conflict that is decidedly pro-Palestinian. This does not make them either anti-Semites or anti-Zionists, but it does indicate a direction in their thinking that should concern people who care about Israel's survival in an increasingly perilous Middle East.”

That bumbbell Ali Abunimah at Comment is Free thinks Obama’s recent pro-Israel statements are just words however.
"If disappointing, given his historically close relations to Palestinian-Americans, Obama's about-face is not surprising. He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

McCain’s VP Running Mate

Now that McCain has secured the Republican nomination, his supporters in the blogosphere have turned to who his VP running mate will be. It seems like everyone has a candidate to offer.

The Hip-Hop Republicans are pushing for Michael Steele from Baltimore. As they put it:

“The Republican Party can ignore the reality of race in this election but to do so will be to its own peril. The only way to at least show that the party recognizes the race factor is not simply to acknowledge it but to embrace it. The smooth talking Barack knows the Republican talking points very well.

During Steele’s Senate announcement speech he summed up state of politics today and how he would change it.saying that “for too long, one party worried more about prices in the stock market than prices in the corner market... And too many in the other party preached reconciliation at the same time they practiced division.”

Pat Toomey from the Wall Street Journal thinks it should be a young, economic conservative governor like South Carolina’s Mark Sanford (“As a member of Congress, Mr. Sanford was a reliable opponent of legislation expanding the size of government, and a supporter of personal accounts for Social Security before it was politically acceptable.”), and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence also get Toomey’s endorsement.

Newt Gingrich puts the popular and moderate Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida at the top of his list. Crist came out publicly in support of McCain right before the Florida primary.

The Nation readers believe McCain will pick Condoleezza Rice in an effort to undermine the unique appeal of Clinton or Obama in the race. Of all the folks brought up as possible VPs, I feel Condi would be the best choice, even though she has been part of the Bush administration. If this election is about “change,” and if McCain wants to paint himself as someone who has challenged the Bush government during the last 8 years, Condi will not help him in that regard. But it would be foolish for McCain to not realize that gender and race will play a huge roll in this election, and picking an experienced minority candidate will take some wind out of the Democrats’ sails.

But who do I really want on the ticket?

Hitch in 08!

Steve from the Liberal Republican offers up Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, and he isn’t the only one to think she would be a strong pick.

John Marzan from Philippine Politics 04 sees McCain’s primary foe Mitt Romney as a good choice in an election that is focusing more and more on the economy.

Israel, Democracy, and Ron Paul Supporters

Monday’s post on Chris Peden’s campaign to beat Ron Paul for his congressional seat brought up some unrelated issues concerning Israel and democracy from the Ron Paul crowd, which the New Centrist parried with ease, and here they are.

Ron Paul “Anonymous” supporter:
"For starters, Israel isn't really a free country. It has conscription, a high tax rate, and a great deal of regulation. Many mid-east countries are effectivley as democratic, although admitdley their citizens vote for even more oppresive rulers. Bringing social democracy to iraq is far different from creating a free society. I certainly don't see why I should have a gun to my head to subsidize their governments.

Peden supports Israel not because of Democracy, but because it servers his desire for empire. If he supported proportional representation in the US, it might be a different story. As is, he is fighting the only congressman against the establishment."

New Centrist:

“The “Index of Economic Freedom” complied by the Heritage Foundation gives Israel a rating of 66.1. That places Israel in 46th place and in the “moderately free” category. Spain, South Korea and Kuwait are in the same category.

Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World” survey, by contrast, gives Israel a rating of “free,” their highest rating. Israel received a Political Rights Score of 1 and a Civil Liberties Score of 2.

If we take these scores seriously we can deduce that Israel does extremely well regarding political rights and also has a healthy civil society—free press, trade unions, professional organizations, etc. Israeli economic policy is neo-liberal but there is still strong state involvement in many sectors of the economy. This is understandable given the country’s history. For a long time Israel was governed by Zionist socialists. And when I write socialists I mean actual self-described socialists (Unfortunately, for many conservative Americans anyone a hair to the left of center, let alone a supporter of the New Deal, is somehow “socialist”).

Anon’s comment regarding Ron Paul, “As is, he is fighting the only congressman against the establishment,” truly reflects the politics of juvenility. Fighting against “the establishment” is not a good in and of itself. It actually is destructive to the republic. Establishments are the foundation of all civilization and it is through establishments that “the good” is attained. Read Thucydides...

Ron Paul “Anonymous” supporter:
"Peden and his ilk don't just support giving aid to Israel, but other countries like Saudi Arabia which are less democratic."

New Centrist:

How much aid does the U.S. give to Saudi Arabia? I am aware that the U.S. gives a lot of support to Egypt, but Saudi Arabia? I'm certain that as a percentage of foreign aid, Saudi Arabia must rank pretty low.

FYI, the Freedom House does not simply rank Israel in relation to its neighbors but in relation to the entire community of nation-states. Even by this standard, Israel is still considered "free".

Ron Paul “Anonymous” supporter:
"Even under Sadam, the Iraqs choose their legislative leaders which controlled the day to day operations of the country."

New Centrist:

Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a single-party state. Iraqis were able to pick candidates from among a variety of Baath Party officials. They certainly did not have a choice of leaders from a variety of political parties as is the case in democratic countries.

Do you realize that people in Cuba vote for their representatives as well? They have a turnout rate of 99% in their elections (Saddam Hussein's Iraq was 100%). Only all of those representatives are members of the Communist Party. This does not make Cuba a democratic country.

I suggest that your "follow the money" approach i.e. locating the reason for an individual's actions based on objective material factors like economics obscures more than it illuminates. We can often find the motivations for people's actions in less quantifiable areas like morals and religious identification.

Writing cliches like, "Peden supports Israel not because of Democracy, but because it servers his desire for empire," displays you have a firm grasp of the party line but this does not substitute for analysis.

Check it out, if you are writing from the United States right now, the existence of "empire"--if this term means United States foreign policy in the service of capitalism--is what makes it possible for you to do whatever it is you do with your life. I don't care whether you are a freeloading fregan, a working-class or middle-class taxpayer, or a member of the elite. Whatever you are doing, "empire" in this broad sense, makes it possible. If you are using the term in in a more specific way I could not deduce it from your examples (Haliburton, etc.)

Ron Paul “Anonymous” supporter:
"While Israel may be freer than its neighbors, the fact that they are a Democracy has little to do with it."

New Centrist:

Are you saying the fact that Israel is a democracy has little to with the fact that Israel is a free country? So does that mean in your estimation that non-democratic countries (authoritarian or totalitarian) can be more free than democracies?

Ron Paul “Anonymous” supporter:
"there is no libertarian homeland."

New Centrist:

Even I know about the Free State Project:
Home awaits!

Derek asks:
"In the Great Depression, how much foreign aid did the US give out? Was it considerably less than in previous years?"

New Centrist:

I would suspect that the levels were low before and during the Depression simply because the U.S. was not the global superpower it is today. Our foreign policy was largely isolationist. It was not until after WWII (Marshall Plan) that the U.S. gained a reputation for foreign aid.

After the Marshall Plan, most of U.S. foreign aid went to allied countries in the so-called "Third World." Most of these localities were colonies of European powers during the Depression and did not become independent until after WWII.

The New Centrist also has 2 recent posts on the Israeli conflict with Gaza that are worth checking out.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Let’s Toss out Ron Paul

Crazy old Ron Paul may still be running for President, but he also has an upcoming congressional election on his plate, and Chris Peden may actually get the upper hand on the more recognizable incumbent. While I disagree with chunks of Peden’s platform, he has this to say about democracy and Israel:
“On national security, and more broadly with the global War on Terror, the best way to ensure peace for our families is to ensure freedom for others. This means encouraging the development of democracy wherever we can, even if it takes the remainder of the century.

...And this is why I believe it is critical for our nation to continue to support Israel: It is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, and serves as a powerful example of human ingenuity in turning a land with few resources into a prosperous, free-market country. It has no oil to tap - only its human potential - and it does this well through freedom, education, rule of law and good governance.“

Since I find myself a single issue voter these days, his position on democracy promotion makes it easy to send the man a check in support of his fight for Texas's 14th congressional district.

It just so happens that Dennis “UFO” Kucinich is entering the toughest congressional fight in his 12 year career as well, from an ex-supporter by the name of Joe Cimperman. According to Thomas J. Sheeran at Town Hall:
“Kucinich, 61, a liberal with a political resume stretching over four decades, sensed early that the Cimperman challenge was real. He abandoned his presidential campaign on Jan. 25, months earlier in the race than he did in 2004 when he also was polling in low one-digit numbers.”

How beautiful would it be to have both Paul and Dennis thrown out in a single election? One can always dream...

(Hat tip to the Liberal Republican)

Both Paul and Kucinich easily glided to victories in their House races yesterday. Rats.

Change for Everyone!

Hitchens doing what he does well.
“It is cliché, not plagiarism, that is the problem with our stilted, room-temperature political discourse. It used to be that thinking people would say, with at least a shred of pride, that their own convictions would not shrink to fit on a label or on a bumper sticker. But now it seems that the more vapid and vacuous the logo, the more charm (or should that be "charisma"?) it exerts. Take "Yes We Can," for example. It's the sort of thing parents might chant encouragingly to a child slow on the potty-training uptake. As for "We Are the People We Have Been Waiting For" (in which case, one can only suppose that now that we have arrived, we can all go home), I didn't think much of it when Rep. Dennis Kucinich used it at an anti-war rally in 2004 ("We Are the People We Are Waiting For" being his version) or when Thomas Friedman came across it at an MIT student event last December. He wrote, by the way, that just hearing it gave him—well, you guess what it gave him. Hope? That's exactly right.

Pretty soon, we should be able to get electoral politics down to a basic newspeak that contains perhaps 10 keywords: Dream, Fear, Hope, New, People, We, Change, America, Future, Together. Fishing exclusively from this tiny and stagnant pool of stock expressions, it ought to be possible to drive all thinking people away from the arena and leave matters in the gnarled but capable hands of the professional wordsmiths and manipulators.”

I had lunch with a few English teachers a few days back, and all of them claim to support Obama (even the Aussies and Brits). I asked them a simple question concerning the “change” mantra Obama had been using: what does it mean?

Not only did each person give a different response as to what Obama meant by it (which was to be expected. The power of his campaign has been its vague message and his ethnic background, not its policy declarations), but each teacher’s interpretation of the Obama candidacy conflicted and opposed the meaning presented by the other individual’s opinions. Did he stand for more international aid overseas, or less? Did he plan to increase national spending, or cut it? Was Democracy worth fighting for overseas, or not?

They were all backing different theoretical candidates, and they had all assumed Obama was their man.

It’s all Bush’s Fault!!!

It’s time for another Huffington Post roundup! Let’s see what the Hufftards have to say about this week’s news.

On a possible war between Colombia and Venezuela:
“Chavez is right in that America is trying to break him down via Columbia. The American people cant and wont do shit about it.” – resonate

I wonder what other nations are Bush’s global appendages?
“I have no doubt what so ever that secret American forces (CIA? National Security Council?) are committed to promoting a war with Venezuaila. Using the Columbians as a surrogate.” – Durango

Neocons everywhere! There! And over there! Oh, and under that rock!! Careful now, that NeoCon may also be a Jooo! Does it matter to any of these people that Colombia crossed into Ecuador’s territory, not Venezuela’s? No, of course not. This is just Bush trying to get good old Chavez in a round about way! That Bush is good. Real good.

I must say, that for being described as an idiot by these folks, Bush sure does know how to control the entire world rather well.

On Marion Coillard’s 9/11 and Moon landing conspiracies:
“The government never investigated the bombs planted at the world trade center buildings just like they never investigated the bombs found (and publicly stated) by the ATF and the FBI in the Murrah building in Oklahoma City.” - Jared137

“I saw the Stars and Stripes waving proudly on the Moon's surface even in the absence of an atmosphere. A proud American needs no further proof.” - 5150

“The only people that are unwilling to question the "official" story about 9/11 are Republicans and their psychologically-abused spouses, the Democrats. Now THAT'S embarrasing.” - faust2001

The only thing more embarrassing than believing in such a stupid and factually wrong conspiracy is that these very people who spout these ideas have become the core echo chamber for the Democratic Party.

But what really pisses me off about this Cotillard chicks’ comments is this line from the story:
“But the actress faces a potential backlash in the US over comments she made in an interview in France.”

The fact that saying such bullshit and utter stupidity doesn’t also produce a backlash in France is telling.

This woman reminds me of every single pseudo-intellectual France has produced in the last 40 years that view themselves as so enlightened next to their American counterparts. If you listen long enough, you will hear Cotillard’s bullshit spouted more often than you do berets and stripped shirts in good old France. The French being ever so enlightened and all, even their actresses understand that going to the moon is impossible and the Jews were responsible for 9/11! And they have the piss to tell us that this passes for intellect and intelligence?