Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton set aside their cordiality and traded accusations in a contentious debate Tuesday evening.
Obama-kins and McCain-a-crats 28 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Culture of Death, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Israel/AIPAC, U.S. Senate, WAR!.
LOL… that is what Rove is calling ’em.
We have heard recently about the Obama-kins, the Republicans for Obama. And I would like to point out the McCain-a-crats, the Democrats who are for McCain, outnumber the Republicans for Obama by almost a two to one margin. [well, that is Rove, the oddest looking cheerleader ever born… — Mcat]
I am sticking with NoneOfTheAbove.
Scahill was on Democracy NOW! on endless war under either Obama or HIllary…
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I started looking at Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s Iraq plans, and one of the things that I discovered is that both of them intend to keep the Green Zone intact. Both of them intend to keep the current US embassy project, which is slated to be the largest embassy in the history of the world. I mean, I think it’s 500 CIA operatives alone, a thousand personnel. And they’re also going to keep open the Baghdad airport indefinitely. And what that means is that even though the rhetoric of withdrawal is everywhere in the Democratic campaign, we’re talking about a pretty substantial level of US forces and personnel remaining in Iraq indefinitely.
In the case of Barack Obama, I wanted to focus in on what his position is on private military contractors, particularly armed ones like those that work for Blackwater. And the reason I focus on Obama instead of Hillary on this is because Barack Obama has actually been at the forefront of addressing the mercenary issue in the Congress. In February of 2007—this was way before the Nisour Square massacre, where Blackwater forces killed seventeen Iraqis and wounded twenty others—in February of 2007, Barack Obama sponsored legislation in the Senate that sought to expand US law so that—
JUAN GONZALEZ: This is just after he got into the Senate, right?
JEREMY SCAHILL: This was in 2007. This was a year ago. And so, this was a major piece of legislation by Obama, and it was done in concert with Representative David Price from North Carolina in the House, a Democrat. And Obama’s legislation basically said we realize that there are loopholes in the law that allow Blackwater and other contractors to essentially get away with murder, and so what we need to do is make it so that US law applies to not only Defense Department contractors, but State Department contractors like Blackwater. If they murder someone in Iraq, we can prosecute them back in the United States.
Now, that legislation hasn’t passed at this point, and it may never pass. I mean, the fact is that the Bush administration actually issued a statement opposing that legislation, and I want to read to you what Bush said. He said that law would have, quote, “intolerable consequences for crucial and necessary national security activities and operations.”
And so, I started to look at this reality. Obama is saying he wants to keep the embassy. Obama is saying he wants to keep the Green Zone. Obama is saying he wants to keep the Baghdad airport. Who’s guarding US diplomats right now at this largest embassy in the history of the world? Well, it’s Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp; it’s these private security companies.
And so, I started talking to some of the Obama campaign people. And it really took days for them to actually get back to me and provide someone to talk to me on the record. I started doing interviews with some of his people, and they said, “We can’t answer these questions.” And so, finally I talked to a senior foreign policy person, who said, yes, the reality is that we can’t rule out, we won’t rule out, using private security forces.
And I said, well, Senator Obama has identified them as unaccountable, and the reality is, his law may not pass before he takes office, if he wins, and so Obama could potentially be using forces that he himself has identified as both unaccountable and above the law. Long pause. Right.
And so, the situation right now is that Obama seems to have painted himself into a corner on this issue, because the reality is, Obama’s people are saying, well, we’re going to increase funding to the State Department’s Diplomatic Security division. They say, ideally, the people we want to be guarding US diplomats in Iraq will be fully burdened US government employees who are accountable to US law.
But the irony right now is that the war machine is so radically privatized that there are about 1,100 mercenaries doing diplomatic security in Iraq right now. There are only 1,400 diplomatic security agents in the entire world, and only thirty-six of them are in Iraq.
And why are they so tender on the subject?, slow or unable to answer?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, let me ask you, in terms of this whole issue of mercenaries in general, I mean, are we facing the possibility that a Democratic president would in essence reduce the troops but increase the mercenaries?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, Juan, this is a great question, and it was one of the reasons why I started looking at this. I want to read you a quote here. Joseph Schmitz, who’s one of the leading executives in the Blackwater empire, recently said this:
“There is a scenario where we could as a government, the United States, could pull back the military footprint, and there would then be more of a need for private contractors to go in.”
So apparently these contractors see a silver lining in that scenario. You know, the reality is, right now, that these forces are one of the most significant threats to Iraqis in the country. I mean, we’ve seen scores of incidents where they’ve shot at them, etc.
But as you know, Juan, this is a bipartisan industry. I mean, Bill Clinton really gave rise to this phenomenon of the military contractors. We know that Dick Cheney was running Halliburton in the ’90s. Who was giving Dick Cheney all of those contracts? Well, it was Bill Clinton. And the Democrats have long been good for the war contracting industry. There’s a reason why Hillary Clinton is the number one recipient of campaign contributions from the defense industry. Number two is John McCain. Obama is number four. Chris Dodd is ahead of him. It’s very interesting. It’s a bipartisan phenomenon.
As the race narrows, the funnel of MIC cash to Hillary and Dodd will shift to Obama…
Just have to chuckle. Doesn’t that just REEK of ”new politics”, so drastically different from [gasp! horror! panic! eye roll!] ”old politics”? The hard core, real politik truth of it all?
A last dribble on, as Owen Paine at SMBIVA calls her, the glamghoul:
JUAN GONZALEZ: I wanted to ask you specifically about this whole question of the increase in troops, because when I asked Samantha Power, as his foreign policy adviser, about this issue, she talked about the US military being stretched and the need for even in peacekeeping to have what she called “boots on the ground” and that weren’t sufficient. But the reality is obviously that there are many American troops in other parts of the world, like South Korea, like Japan, like, to some degree, Europe, that are not being—not—doing nothing else except occupying those countries, and they could be redeployed if the Army needed more troops.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, what that indicates, I think, is that Obama is going to have an interventionist, expansionist foreign policy. I mean, that certainly was the policy of the Clinton administration. I mean, in fairness, though, Barack Obama, more than Hillary Clinton and certainly more than John McCain, who’s talking about having troops in Iraq for a hundred years, Obama is talking about trying to increase the UN presence in Iraq. He’s trying to bring in regional countries. I mean, he has a pretty serious diplomatic plan for Iraq. The problem is that it doesn’t cancel out his military plan.
On the case of the increase in troops, what Obama’s people told me is that we need these 90,000 troops desperately, because our troops need a rest. Some of them are serving three, four tours over in Iraq, and so we need to get them in there. But the reality is, you don’t get 90,000 troops and then be able to deploy them overnight. So, clearly, they’re thinking about this for years and years to come. I think the reality is that neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton are actually going to be in the business of permanently ending the US occupation of Iraq. That’s a deadly serious issue, and it needs to be front and center on this campaign.
GOOD LUCK! Countries want out of Afghanistan. Meanwhile we are bitching that countries serving in Afghanistan with different rules of engagement [no combat] are not really doing their part. This cute idea that countries will “help” us with Iraq (I laughed out loud at Samantha, on last week with Charlie Rose, chiding the Europeans for “not caring about the fate of the Iraqis”… Christ on a bayonet!, does the bitch for war HEAR herself?) is just campaign blither/come hither. They, all those countries we think should join us, did not want to assist a possible Kerry as president with the same baseless (in reality) come hither, shoveled out to the American people.
Poor America, always the victim: No one wants to help us, in our greatness, our goodness, our bounty that we offer freely to the world.
Is that the ultimate whine or what! Because you know it’s coming down the pike, in a couple of years…. No matter which politics is operational, old, new or just plain old / new bullshite.
Please make that the last debate…….. 26 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election.
I fell sound asleep about half way thru… caught up reading the thread and now off to scan The Caucus blow by blow. Will put the transcript up if NYT has it…
Here, straight from the Front Page of the NYT (easy way of doing it!)
I look forward to her moving on, and the focus changing.
“Obamaville: Make America Shine Like the Sun” 26 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
[M]eanwhile, the rules for covering Obama have grown by at least one in recent weeks.
Around the Super Tuesday primary elections on Feb. 5, the barriers around the press area at Obama events went from easily penetrable, fabric rope lines to interlocking metal gates manned by vigilant gatekeepers.
Bottom line: The media can no longer roam free.
For months prior to that, reporters could mingle among hundreds of supporters after rallies as Obama worked the rope line. It was a chance to see him interact with voters – and one of the few opportunities to squeeze in a question.
But camera crews and reporters often clogged the rope line, which annoyed Obama because he viewed it as his time to meet voters. Foreign TV crews would sometimes do stand-up shots there.
Now, reporters must usually flag down a staff member before entering the rope line area.
“We are fortunate to have a packed house, in addition to thousands of media from all over the world attending our events,” campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki wrote in a statement. “We are always flexible in making sure the media has the access they need, but more importantly that the thousands of people who come out to the events have the best experience possible.”
The remedy suggested to select reporters? Take off your press badge and slip past the gatekeepers.
For his part, Obama attempted to connect with the traveling press corps Friday. But just as soon as he started, he was gone again.
He poked his head out from behind a blue curtain at the visitors center at the University of Texas-Pan American campus. Reporters, hunched over their laptops, looked startled at the sight of the candidate. They hadn’t interacted with him in five days.
“Words matter. Don’t listen to Hillary,” Obama yelled to the four dozen media, beaming a mischievous smile. “That’s a joke.”
One reporter, sensing the rare opportunity to fire off a question, asked Obama about McCain’s criticism of his pledge to talk with Cuban president Raul Castro.
“I didn’t hear John McCain,” Obama said, even though his campaign put out a statement on that very topic 30 minutes earlier.
A second later, the Illinois senator disappeared behind the curtain – off to do an interview with US Weekly, the entertainment news magazine.
And there is a debate tonight… MSNBC 8 PM ET. My guess, all of the several Hillarys show up.
** PS forgot to add, the handlettered sign is hard to read it also could be, Obama Will Make America Shine Like the Sun.
Either way…. the last big rally I saw, one of the ones in Ohio, was pretty much a Holy Roller event, certainly in the first rows. In my opinion, that is really, really old politics.
Just a thread……………… 24 February 2008Posted by marisacat in Divertissements.
What the hell… Oscar for President. Why not?
I don’t know about you……. 23 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
but i am pooped. Too many weeks of too tightly packed news cycles… sturm drang up down over out…
so… just a change (there will be change! be happy!) of mask indication to hold up a thread…
Assassination masturbation 22 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, U.S. Senate, WAR!.
One of the reasons I grit my teeth over all the comparisons is … assassination. Careful what you yearn for… Which is not to say America is not loaded with nutters, crazies, supremacists, racists, etc., of all sorts. Some highly weaponised.
We have prayer circles out here in CA about it… I caught a long time local activist, Eve Patterson, last week on a PBS news program. She seemed a little too pleased by the threat of it all, that a chosen one risks death…. Just my harsh observation. Distasteful as well as unwise, imo.
Probably my first and last assassination slurp diary. And a good one to kiss the game off with. It hits, along with the thread, all the points. (And then some. Don’t miss the messy minuet between denali and the sock puppet, VertheVik.)
My view, the right wing, the Eternal Government, has no desire for any more high profile martyrs on the so called Left of the Aisle. None. They have highly effective methods of political assassination and very much enjoy employing those strategies. No decades of adoration.
To really risk state assassination one would have to oppose war, seek to broadly organise the disenfranchised, organise the newly disenfranchised. Lead a Poor Peoples’ March.
That sort of thing.
I am just listening to Samantha Powers, surely some sort of queen of the modern, soft faced war… she is on with Rose. To hawk her new book on Sergio de Mello. She says early on he was described as a cross between James Bond and RFK.
Be careful what you wish for. She closes saying we will, for a long time, be dealing with “broken people in broken places”.
Her fondest hope, I do believe, is just that. In our position as Gawd, of course. No matter what face we wear.
A couple of the last comments from the previous thread:
The British Embassy in Belgrade came under attack as protests against Kosovan independence swept the Serbian capital, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.
Damage to the building was “limited” and embassy staff were safe, Mr Miliband said.
The United States Embassy was torched by Serb rioters and a charred body was found after the attack.
Reportedly one of the protesters. Not confirmed yet.
Feb 22, 12:57 AM
Turkish troops have launched a ground incursion across the border into Iraq in pursuit of separatist Kurdish rebels, the military said Friday — a move that dramatically escalates Turkey’s conflict with the militants.
It is the first confirmed ground operation by the Turkish military into Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. It also raised concerns that it could trigger a wider conflict with the U.S.-backed Iraqi Kurds, despite Turkish assurances that its only target was the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
The ground operation started after Turkish warplanes and artillery bombed suspected rebel targets on Thursday, the military said on its Web site. The ground incursion was backed by the Air Force, the statement said.
Turkey has conducted air raids against the PKK guerrillas in northern Iraq since December, with the help of U.S. intelligence, and it has periodically carried out so-called ”hot pursuits” in which small units sometimes spend only a few hours inside Iraq.
The announcement of a cross-border, ground incursion of a type that Turkey carried out before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a major development in the conflict, which started in 1984 and has claimed as many as 40,000 lives.
The Kurdish militants are fighting for autonomy in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, and have carried out attacks on Turkish targets from bases in northern Iraq. The U.S. and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organization.
”The Turkish Armed Forces, which values Iraq’s territorial integrity and its stability, will return as soon as planned goals are achieved,” the military said. ”The executed operation will prevent the region from being a permanent and safe base for the terrorists and will contribute to Iraq’s stability and internal peace.”
Private NTV television said 10,000 troops were taking part in the offensive and had penetrated six miles into Iraq.
Of course, the MSM insists on using the Nixonian “incursion.”
Things seem to be spinning out of control.
Feb 22, 3:19 AM —
Debate, debate, debate…. 21 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Afghanistan War, AFRICOM, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, U.S. Senate, WAR!.
well, that is what they call it.
With the Democratic presidential nomination in the balance, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will face off during a CNN debate in Austin, Texas, tonight at 8 p.m. ET. The debate is being held in partnership with Univision and the Texas Democratic Party. Full story
If the past few days are any indication, we have a wingding of an eight plus months ahead…
Ready, aim, fire! Bring it on! Let’s Roll!
Howard Zinn pops up:
In 1934, early in the Roosevelt Presidency, strikes broke out all over the country, including a general strike in Minneapolis, a general strike in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands on strike in the textile mills of the South. Unemployed councils formed all over the country. Desperate people were taking action on their own, defying the police to put back the furniture of evicted tenants, and creating self-help organizations with hundreds of thousands of members.
Without a national crisis-economic destitution and rebellion-it is not likely the Roosevelt Administration would have instituted the bold reforms that it did.
Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War, or institute a system of free health care for all.
They offer no radical change from the status quo.
They do not propose what the present desperation of people cries out for: a government guarantee of jobs to everyone who needs one, a minimum income for every household, housing relief to everyone who faces eviction or foreclosure.
They do not suggest the deep cuts in the military budget or the radical changes in the tax system that would free billions, even trillions, for social programs to transform the way we live.
None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties. We should not expect that a victory at the ballot box in November will even begin to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism.
So we need to free ourselves from the election madness engulfing the entire society, including the left. ::spin::
No, it is empire that matters:
[W]ith all eyes on the number of troops physically stationed in Iraq, one of the ways in which further reductions will be allowed is by shifting missions to other Persian Gulf countries, a process that is already underway. In Kuwait, for instance, the Army is completing the finishing touches on a permanent ground forces command for Iraq and the region, one that it describes as being capable of being a platform for “full spectrum operations” in 27 countries around southwest Asia and the Middle East.
Permanently deployed with the new regional headquarters in Kuwait will be a theater-level logistical command, a communications command, a military intelligence brigade, a “civil affairs” group and a medical command. “These commands now have a permanent responsibility to this theater,” Lt. Gen. James J. Lovelace told the Mideast edition of Stars and Stripes. “They’ll have a permanent presence here.”
The Air Force and Navy, meanwhile, have set up additional permanent bases in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. By permanent I mean large and continuing American headquarters and presences, most of which are maintained through a combination of coalition activities, long-standing bilateral agreements and official secrecy. Tens of billions have been plowed into the American infrastructure. Admiral William J. Fallon, the overall commander of the region, was just in Oman this week after a trip to Iraq to secure continuing American military bases in that country.
When a war with Iran loomed and World War III seemed to be gaining traction in the Bush administration, this entire base structure was seen as the “build-up” for the next war. The build-up of course began decades ago, but since 9/11, the focus has been almost exclusively “supporting” U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is there, but to interpret the planting of the American flags and the moving of chess pieces as being focused on Tehran is to miss what is really going on.
Regardless of who is elected, in the coming year U.S. combat forces in Iraq will undoubtedly continue to contract to a fewer number of combat brigades and special operations forces focused on counter-terrorism and the mission of continuing to train and mentor the Iraqi Army and police forces. Much of the “war” that is already being fought is being supported from Kuwait and other locations, and the ongoing shifts seem to point to an intent to increasingly pull additional functions and people out of harm’s way.
Of course they will not be out of harm’s way at all, because a permanent American military presence in the region brings with it its own dangers and provocations. But most important what it brings for the next president is a fait accompli: a pause that facilitates a drawdown that begins to look a lot like a continuation of the same military and strategic policy, even at a time when there is broad questioning as to whether this is the most effective way to fight “terrorism.”
And that is Arkin in the Wapo, really just a dulled down check lister. No live drama, no flowing blood.
UPDATE, 2:24 pm
IOZ is on target today… beneath a picture bearing the SPQR of the Roman Empire, here is a snip:
[I]f any doubts remained that Democrats are principally interested in wielding the aggregated powers of the “unitary executive” to their own purposes and ends, it should be dispelled by the ongoing primary fight over which Democrat will be ready on “day one” to step in as the “commander in chief.” Clinton and her advisors specifically use the term in its neologistic glory, but both she and Obama discuss their presidential ambitions in dictatorial terms.
I use the word here in its Roman sense: one person, “temporarily” empowered through some democratic or parliamentary process, to wield what is essentially total control over the mechanisms of the state. The Commander in Chief of the United States of America, military, citizens, and all. In large part, Democratic partisans share this desire, as their barely-concealed envy at the subordinate relationship of the Republican congress to our Lord Protector reveals.
Let me put it to you straight: I am not looking forward to the next four years.
[[[[[ shudder ]]]]] ~~~ Updated shudder 20 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, DC Politics, U.S. Senate, WAR!.
Well yes that is Bush… but just imagine Ms Iseman in his place.
Thanks to HCFM and catnip who posted it within a couple minutes of each other…
WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, in his offices and aboard a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s clients, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity…
NBC News just on out here… The Obamas lead… he as front runner – she splainin’. Timing a bit off… but perhaps McCain captures, with Ms Iseman, tomorrow’s cycle…
Not sure how it shakes out… I am tempted to give credit (ew, have a lemon scented towel) to Axelrod… he is often credited with clearing the way for Obama in his senate run, first of a Dem primary challenger then the Republican opposite. Both thru leaked divorce details… Blair Hull was the Dem and Ryan was the R…
But, who knows. Operative land is quivering… Film at 11 ??
Ooopps, NBC news getting the Iseman story in now…
UPDATE, 6:23 am
Thanks to JJB from Attytood…. Ms Iseman flies high. Or is a fly buzzing around…
From the Attytood page, loved these lines from her alumnus update:
In addition, she has met Melanie Griffith, Britney Spears, Bo Derek, and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
And, of course, George Bush and John McCain.
Will wonders never cease?
On to Tejas!… 19 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
…and Ohio!, but it does not fit the pic!
I was going to post his victory speech, but then it is looong. Maybe excerpts later, after I read it.
[sorry for the delay, the back pages at WP are mess tonight…]
Music 18 February 2008Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
The illustration rides over this Clive Crook opinion piece, which is not such a much, I don’t think….
Snagged from Ben Smith at Politico:
Public Policy Polling–which has had a pretty good record this cycle in New York, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina–has Obama leading the Wisconsin primary by 13.
ARG, which has had a bit of a rough cycle, has Hillary up 6.
Obama’s internals allegedly have him down by only 7 in Ohio.