Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New Yorker


Flashback: McCain joked about how much women love to be raped.


The blog Rum, Romanism and Rebellion pulls out a 1986 Tucson Citizen article recounting a joke about rape told by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). Speaking to the National League of Cities and Towns in Washington, DC, McCain allegedly said:

Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, "Where is that marvelous ape?"

McCain was swiftly criticized by women's groups. A spokeswoman for NOW in Arizona said the organization's members were "incensed by his cruel and sexist remark." McCain said he did not "recall" telling the joke. More recently, the McCain campaign scheduled a fundraiser with a Texas oilman who compared rape to the weather while running for governor. "As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it," said Clayton Williams in 1990. After public outcry, the event was "postponed."

Bring Me the Head of Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden.
(Artwork by Mitchell Marco)

    If Osama bin Laden consciously set out to lure the United States into an ever-widening, never-ending and militarily unwinnable war, President George W. Bush is providing exactly the war the bearded one wanted. Start with Iraq, where for all his talk of military success, Mr. Bush has just failed to get Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to accept a long-term Status of Forces Agreement. The Iraqis, it turns out, stubbornly insist on a timetable for withdrawing US troops and a commitment to block the Israelis from using Iraqi airspace to bomb Iran. Such are the political fruits of imperial adventure in a world that has long rejected colonial rule. Nor should it come as a surprise to hear our badly overstretched military brass echoing Barack Obama in Monday's New York Times. It seems that everyone in the know now wants to withdraw combat forces from the Iraqi quagmire to send them to fight the resurgent Taliban and opium-rich warlords in an Afghan morass.

    Move on to Iran, where the New Yorker's Sy Hersh has caught Washington sponsoring what can only be called terrorist attacks within the country, while Mr. Bush now tells the Israelis to go ahead with their preparations for possible aerial strikes against Tehran's nuclear enrichment and other facilities.

    On to Afghanistan, where the CIA's hand-picked Hamid Karzai has predictably failed to become a viable national leader, mostly because his fellow Pashtun tribesmen see him for what he is - the Afghan face of a foreign military occupation. US and allied casualties now surpass the monthly totals in Iraq, while our supposed friends in Pakistan's military intelligence are widely suspected of sponsoring last week's terrorist bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

    And so to Pakistan, where the Pentagon is systematically destabilizing the newly elected and highly fragile civilian government, as the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and its task force sit menacingly off the Pakistani coast.

    Allahu Akhbar! What more could bin Laden want?

The more things change...


One's ironic


Obama's Multi-Million Dollar Question: What About The Hillraiser Holdouts?

 Seth Colter Wallsby Seth Colter Walls

Before Hillary Clinton suspended her presidential campaign, the chattering classes were doing what they do best: speculating, specifically about her 18 million voters. Once the New York Democrat bowed out, would her fiercest female supporters "get in line" and support Barack Obama? This question, and others like it, were breathlessly repeated -- as though the simple act of repetition could will a conflict, and a great story, into being.

Barely one month after Clinton's exit from the race, however, the power of the women's vote to stir up trouble for Democrats has become a decidedly less certain affair. While Salon's Rebecca Traister has become an invaluable source for anyone who wants to understand the mixed feelings that still persist among some Clinton supporters, Barack Obama has opened up a double-digit lead over John McCain among women (a trend that started the very week after Clinton brought her campaign to a close). That advantage is sticking, at least according to a new Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday, which showed Obama with a 14-point lead over McCain among female voters.

But even if the process of healing is well underway in the Democratic Party at large, there is less clarity about the status of the "unity project" when it comes to the smaller circle of high-dollar Democratic donors -- many of whom originally backed Clinton. Now, as John McCain begins posting his best-ever financial numbers while the Obama campaign appears to be conceding that small, internet donations can't power them all the way to November 4, the absence of some key "Hillraisers" from the current Obama fundraising effort has become conspicuous. Even a few such holdouts, should they stay on the sidelines for the duration of the election, could add up to a loss of millions of dollars for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee (which is a bit cash-poor, itself).

quotes of the day

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. . . Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty"

- Howard Zinn -

     "Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In World War I it was the munitions industrialists; in World War II it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck.
     "The responsibility for wars falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these same masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anyone else. To stress this guilt on the part of the masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously. On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom fighters; the latter that attitude held by power-thirsty politicians."
- Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism -

".....if by a liberal they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, their civil liberties.. if that is what they mean by a "liberal" then I am proud to be a liberal."
- John F. Kennedy

"A society whose citizens refuse to see and investigate the facts, who refuse to believe that their government and their media will routinely lie to them and fabricate a reality contrary to verifiable facts, is a society that chooses and deserves the Police State Dictatorship it's going to get."
- Ian Williams Goddard -

for sale


IRAQ: Unrest Surfaces in Fallujah Again

By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

FALLUJAH, Jul 16 (IPS) - Security has collapsed again in Fallujah, despite U.S. military claims.

Local militias supported by U.S. forces claim to have "cleansed" the city, 70 km to the west of Baghdad, of all insurgency. But the sudden resignation of the city's chief of police, Colonel Fayssal al-Zoba'i, has appeared as one recent sign of growing unrest.

Authorities may have controlled the media better than the violence.

"Assassinations never stopped in Fallujah, but the media seems unwilling to cover the actual situation here," a human rights activist in Fallujah, speaking on terms of anonymity given the tense situation, told IPS. "The two bomb blasts that killed six policemen earlier this month and another two that killed three on the weekend seem to have terminated the silence."

People in Fallujah say they still suffer despite the relative improvement in the security situation. 'Relative' is the key word here, because the improvement is measured against two massive U.S. military operations in 2004 that killed thousands in the city, and displaced hundreds of thousands.

"Fallujah was slaughtered by the Americans when her people decided to fight, and then were suffocated when they decided to reduce the fighting against the occupiers," former intelligence officer Major Ahmed al-Alwani told IPS. "There was strong resistance against American occupation forces since May 2003, but it was the Americans who pointed their guns at the innocent civilians and their houses.

"When the American military plans failed, they decided to hire local tribal militias to do the job for them," Alwani said, referring to the 'Awakening Group' militia created by the U.S. military. "Those also failed, despite the executions and the crimes they committed against people."

Many people throughout Iraq complain of the brutality and unlawful behaviour of these Awakening Groups. Members of these groups are paid 300 dollars per month by the U.S. military.


Grim New Yorker


Drilling Without Oil, Tax Cuts Without Growth

by: Dean Baker

McCain proposed offshore drilling in environmentally sensitive areas, attempting to show he cares about lowering gas prices for everyday Americans. Despite the inability of this drilling to lower gas prices anytime soon, the media picked up on his posturing and promoted it, rather than offering a critique.
(Illustration: Everett Bogue / Getty Images)

    Senator McCain is in the unenviable position of running on the track record of a president with the worst economic performance since Herbert Hoover. He has adopted the strategy of ignoring the record while embracing his predecessor's policies. McCain is betting the media will be so incompetent that they will not notice. He might be right. The basic story here is very simple. The centerpiece of Senator McCain's economic agenda is the continuation of the Bush tax cuts. Of course, he has tossed out a few other items, but impact of his other proposals, such as ending earmarks, is trivial. For all practical purposes, McCain's economic agenda is Bush's tax cuts.

    We could have an interesting debate about whether giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in the country is good economic policy, if we didn't already know the answer. We have had almost eight years of President Bush's tax cuts and the record is as clear as it can possibly be. When it comes to producing economic growth that benefits the middle class, the tax cuts were dismal failures.

    The economy is now in the process of sinking into the second recession of the second Bush administration, and President Bush already has the worst record on job creation of any president since Herbert Hoover. At the current rate of job loss, it is entirely possible President Bush will have created fewer private sector jobs in his entire eight years in office than the 2.6 million annual average for the eight years of the Clinton administration.

    It is virtually certain the wage for the typical worker will be lower when President Bush leaves office in January of 2009 than when he took office in January of 2001. This means most workers will have seen nothing from the benefits of productivity growth over the last eight years.