Thursday, February 26, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Real Deal About Obama and the New York Post

I have been boycotting the New York Post for a long time, and so have thousands of other people too. I am put off by its open racism and love of the American empire. Its obvious right wing tilt and freak show headlines keep many readers away, in droves. It has bled red ink for years in its circulation battle with the Daily News, but because the News Corporation wants to keep its print foothold in New York, it continues to subsidize the losing operation.

The Post only costs 25 cents, the only way the paper managed to increase circulation. That price gives me no incentive to change my ways. I am proud to say that I wouldn't purchase the Post if it only cost a penny. So great is my antipathy that I won't even pick up a discarded copy to read the sports or television sections.

The Post is now involved in a new controversy of its own making. Last week the president signed the stimulus bill and a pet chimpanzee mauled and nearly killed a Connecticut woman. The chimp was later shot to death by police.

Enter the Post with the editorial cartoon shown above. The Post claims there was no intent to mock or caricature Obama personally, to compare him to a chimp or to support an assassination. Many people are still outraged, and with justification. No newspaper should even imply support for a presidential shooting.
However, the outrage expressed over the cartoon is misguided in many ways. Last year the New York Post endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the New York presidential primary. The endorsement was tepid at best, it was in fact more of an anti-Clinton screed than an expression of support for Obama.

Yet the fact that the Post chose Obama over Clinton should have raised the alarm in the progressive community. It was one of many opportunities for progressives to question Obama before supporting him. The New York Post wouldn't endorse any democratic who was good for the country.

But Obama supporters said nothing, in fact they were happy. The Post is no more racist today than it was one year ago, but Obamaites were glad when their guy got another leg up against Hillary Clinton, even if that leg came from Rupert Murdoch.

Why picket the Post offices only over this cartoon when the Post always calls for Israel and the United States to kill thousands of people whenever and wherever they choose? Every call for death and profits its met with ghoulish happiness in Murdochland.

When Obama attacks Iran, and the Post waxes enthusiastic, will anyone protest? I already know the answer. They won't protest at the Post or at the White House either. The Post didn't suddenly become ugly because of the chimp cartoon and it will still be ugly even if it apologizes for this latest example of right wing racism.
American militarism is ugly and racist too, but no one cares about that anymore because of the color of the current oval office occupant. So by all means protest at the Post, but don't stop with the chimp cartoon. And when the time calls for it, protest Obama too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boycott Israel!

My column does not appear this week, but that is no reason to miss Black Agenda Report. One issue of BAR tells you more of what you need to know than the New York Times or the Washington Post ever will. If you think I'm exaggerating, just observe how the Times has noticed that the Obama administration is reproducing the Bush doctrine on civil liberties, rendition and torture. “It was literally just Bush redux — exactly the same legal arguments that we saw the Bush administration present to the court.”

The august Times figured out what I said in my column last week and what anyone paying attention has noticed ever since Obama was inaugurated. Bush crimes against national and international law will not be investigated or prosecuted, mostly because the Obama administration plans to do the same things. As the ACLU says, "The Obama administration's position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law. The new American administration shouldn't be complicit in hiding the abuses of its predecessors."

But I digress from the topic of this post. Israel is America's chief partner in crime, its mini-me bully around the world. Even worse, despite getting more U.S. aid than the rest of the world combined, Israel quite openly tells American presidents what they can and cannot do. Last week Israel scuttled the appointment of General Anthony Zinni as ambassador to Iraq. Zinni got the thumbs up from Secretary of State Clinton and a congratulatory phone call from Vice President Biden. Unfortunately neither of them had checked in with "some major supporters in New York State" who couldn't abide the fact that Zinni has criticized Israel in the past. Bye-bye Anthony.

One of Bush's last actions in office was to change his position on a UN vote calling for a cease fire in Gaza. Why did he do it? Because Ehud Olmert got him on the phone and forced him to.

"Olmert told the crowd that when he heard a Security Council vote was to come in 10 minutes, he tracked down Bush, who he was told was speaking in Philadelphia. Bush left the podium, according to Olmert’s account, to take his call." We know this happened because Olmert quite publicly bragged about it.

So Obama and Clinton know who is the boss. It is Israel. No change here, nothing to see, just move along.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Leon Panetta is a Criminal

Forget Sully and Suleyman. Watch Leon Panetta. He is the former Clinton administration chief of staff who is now Obama's CIA director nominee.

Panetta had stated quite correctly that the Bush administration kidnapped people and had them tortured. He stuck with his story until a Republican senator got all testy with him at his confirmation hearing and he then folded like a lawn chair. "I'm not aware of the validity of those claims."

But wait, there is more. There was great celebration when the Obama team said they would abide by the Army Field Manual directives in their treatment of prisoners. That promise lasted for all of two weeks. Now Panetta supports the old ticking time bomb excuse.

“If we had a ticking bomb situation, and obviously, whatever was being used I felt was not sufficient, I would not hesitate to go to the president of the United States and request whatever additional authority I would need."

Of course, we all know the problem with the ticking time bomb. CIA agents, soldiers, cops, teachers, and dog catchers will all claim that a ticking time bomb is all that stands between us and death and they will torture people. They will do it a lot. Not to mention that torture is a violation of U.S. and international law.

But wait, there is even more. Panetta announced that he will violate international law, just like his predecessors. He will not prosecute anyone who claims they were ordered to torture and he won't go after Bush administration officials who broke the law in ordering the torture. "I'll leave that for others," said the cowardly Mr. Panetta.

Panetta knows the truth about torture and rendition, but he didn't get to be where he is without also knowing the rules and he isn't about to buck them.

Yes we can!
What You Should Be Watching

You should be watching your new president as he acts just like the old one.

"Let's be very clear about all this. The Obama Administration is going to court to uphold -- to uphold -- the president's "prerogative" to arbitrarily declare any U.S. citizen an "enemy combatant" -- even if the citizen is arrested on U.S. soil -- and have that citizen held for years on end, without charges, in federal brigs where he can be isolated, broken and subjected to 'harsh interrogation techniques.' The Obama Administration is going to court to uphold -- to uphold -- the "prerogative" of government lawyers to proffer blatantly illegal memos concocted solely to justify an already existing system of crimes that are punishable by death under American law. The Obama Administration is continuing the Bush Administration's blatant blackmail against the nation's closest ally in order to keep evidence of torture -- evidence which involves no "sensitive" national security information whatsoever -- from being made public."

Turn off the idiot box, and read Chris Floyd.
Sully and Suleyman

As I watched WCBS television here in New York, I heard a brief promo. "Salute Sully, Monday at 5 a.m.!"

Americans are as dumb as dirt. Instead of paying attention to the debate in Washington about the stimulus bill, they are stuck on stupid, worrying about octuplet moms and airline pilots.

The economy is tanking fast and Obama and Congress are making thinks worse with an ineffective stimulus plan. Paul Krugman tells us. ". . . to appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts." That is what we should all be worried about. Instead we are besotted with Nadia Suleyman and Chesley "Sully" Sullenburger

No one had ever heard of Nadia Suleyman until she gave birth to octuplets two weeks ago. It turns out she already has six kids, all conceived by IVF, and then had six more embryos implanted in her uterus. OK, that is pretty hardcore, but so what?

I don't know her, I won't be supporting her kids, she hasn't asked me to babysit, so I just don't give a damn. Many Americans do not share my lack of interest. First they were fascinated by the story, then they wondered who the mommy was, then they foamed at the month when they found out she was unmarried. She is the wreck at the side of the road that people claim they won't watch but instead slow down to gaze upon.

Speaking of wrecks. There was a plane crash here in New York a few weeks back. A US Airways jet lost both engines when they sucked in a few geese. Who knew? I thought the worst thing geese did was poop on golf courses, but I digress.

The pilot and co-pilot were forced to ditch the plane in the Hudson river and they did so without loss of life. Sullenburger and the rest of the crew deserve kudos for doing their jobs well, but of course our dumb ass culture and corporate media bent on getting ratings for broadcasting stupid crap won't leave the story alone.

CBS won the exclusive 60 Minutes interview and will be shoving Sully and company down our throats for the next couple of days. The Early Show will devote its entire Monday morning show to the US Airways story. The demand from the media is so great that Sullenburger, the pilots unions, the flight attendants union and US Airways all have their own media representatives deciding who they will and won't talk to.

We don't have the luxury of being distracted by this bullshit. There is not that much to say. The crew were skilled and lucky that conditions permitted them to land safely. End of story. Nothing to see here, just move along.

As for Suleyman, who cares that a weird chick keeps making babies when the nation is on the verge of an economic depression? Unfortunately, too many people care about things that are none of their business when things that are their business cry out for attention.

I will not be watching and Sully or Suleyman interviews. I will be watching Congress.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Thanks for the Shout Out

Counterpunch and OpEd News both linked to my current Black Agenda Report column, "Economic Crisis Widens." I love both of these sites. I am deeply flattered that they saw fit to include me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Americans Won't Protest

The French, God bless them, are fed up with bail outs and declining employment. So they took to the streets and went on strike. The Icelanders brought down their government after their economy was destroyed by crooked bankers. What do Americans do? They do nothing but complain to each other and that is the best case scenario. Some are committing murder and suicide in their ever increasing despair.

Why won't Americans protest? I don't think the answers are very complicated. Americans are propagandized into stupidity and they are afraid of their government. If you believe your nation is "the greatest country in the world" you have no reason to complain. The greatest country on earth can't be wrong, even if millions are out of work and losing their homes and their health insurance.

Our corporate media lie to us all the time. We live in a state of perfect disinformation* about the most basic issues facing us. We don't know that military spending is killing our economy, or that Iran doesn't threaten us, or that private prison systems insure a steady stream of prisoners, or that we could have national health insurance or that American citizens could be bailed out like financial institutions are. When anyone rises up to tell us these facts, they are marginalized and prevented from playing a part in public discourse.

America has a greater percentage of its population behind bars than any country on earth. That statistic is not lost on anyone. If police can kill Oscar Grant in cold blood, they can certainly lock you up for stepping out of line at a protest. Of course, when Americans last took to the streets in large numbers in 2003 to stop the occupation of Iraq, it made no difference. The media disappeared the marches from their papers and their broadcasts and the Democratic party proudly disassociated themselves from the people who could have put them back into power. So even those predisposed to take action will ask themselves if they should bother.

What would make Americans protest? I can't think of anything. I don't know how bad things will have to be before protest will play a significant role in this country again. Now that Obama is president, the situation is even worse. We don't need to protest because our president is so wonderful and so understanding and so historic and so bipartisan and so post-racial and I could go on but you get the picture.

In any case, he didn't close Guantanamo yet, so if you protest you just might end up there.

*"If it were not for the Internet that provides Americans with access to foreign news sources, Americans would live in a world of perfect disinformation." Paul Craig Roberts