Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

JC

This week’s State of the Union Address by President Obama gives us another opportunity to peek into how America’s propaganda system works. While there are many places to observe this — foreign policy, the economy and employment — it is the constant isolationist drumbeat driving our country into a renewed Cold War with Russia that I’m going to focus on today.

Undoubtedly there will be those who will pooh-pooh me for a variety of reasons, but so be it. While our domestic situation with the economy, employment and debt is dire, I think that it is the specter of what the new Cold War brings that is paramount. So it is with interest when I hear that Barack Obama proclaims that Russia is isolated, and Congress and the American people cheer.

Except that it ain’t necessarily so. Thursday brought headlines that would surprise even the most ardent Russian isolationist:

“China, Russia Plan $242 Billion Beijing-Moscow Rail Link”

bullet-train

Yes, we have isolated Russia so well, that it entered into an agreement with China to build a 7,000km high speed rail linking Moscow with Beijing, and augmenting a major section of the Trans-Siberian Railway. Yep, Moscow to Beijing in 30 hours. That would be the equivalent of getting on a high speed rail in San Francisco, going to Seattle, and then cross country to Washington D.C. in 30 hours. Oh, well, we’ve still got Amtrak, America’s version of the old Trans-Siberian Railway. And it carried a “record” 31.6 million riders in fiscal 2013.

The story is remarkable enough in its technical achievement. It will be the longest, largest high-speed rail system in the world, carrying over 200 million passengers a year. And the cost is phenomena, $242 billion dollars. Imagine what our country could do if it were to invest a like sum in 4,000 miles of high-speed rail! Montreal to D.C. to San Francisco and L.A. and down to Mexico City.

Sound like a country that is isolated? While Obama drives wedges between Russia and the west for failing to submit to American hegemony, Russia is furiously building relationships with the rest of the world: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa); Turkey (oil pipeline deal to replace SouthStream through Bulgaria); SCO (Shanghai Cooperative Organization), Eurasian Economic Union, etc.

Russia and China are currently working out a deal to replace SWIFT, the western bank system for working out trade payments between countries and businesses. The petrodollar is moving to the petro-yuan/ruble. So sure, we’re succeeding in isolating Russia, but just from the west: Europe and the Five Eyes (Canada, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, U.K.).

Russia has already declared in many, many ways that it will not submit to western sanctions. So while the sanctions may work to create the appearance of isolationism in the west, it only serves to drive Russia into alliances more quickly with the rest of the world. We are assisting in the creation of an economic and military union between Russia and China that will most effectively counter the military of the U.S. and its allies.

[Russian Foreign Mister Sergei] Lavrov also opined that he considered the United States’ approach to international relations “outdated” and “not a proper thing for a great power.”

“I should like that all countries choose the path of cooperation, not the path of diktat disguised in some diplomatic form,” he said, adding the charge that the U.S. was actually too weak to go it alone – which is why it tries to form coalitions, as in Iraq.

Lavrov also expressed more doubts than hope that the United States’ approach would change anytime soon.

“It’s in their blood and flesh, they believe they are first, and this philosophy, this genetic code, is very hard to change,” Lavrov said, before expressing faint confidence that “the logic of partnership” between the United States and Russia would ultimately prevail.

While there are those “isolationists” who believe that what we are doing will suffice to intimidate Russia sufficiently so that we and NATO can consolidate Europe into one solid block to work to break Russia up and/or change its leadership, others more keenly tuned into Russian sentiment disagree. Unfortunately, the average American has little knowledge of Russia by which to gauge the effectiveness or appropriateness of such a strategy.

Dimitri Orlov recently wrote an excellent piece for the westerner to get a realistic look at how Russia views western expansionism and hegemony:

Recent events, such as the overthrow of the government in Ukraine, the secession of Crimea and its decision to join the Russian Federation, the subsequent military campaign against civilians in Eastern Ukraine, western sanctions against Russia, and, most recently, the attack on the ruble, have caused a certain phase transition to occur within Russian society, which, I believe, is very poorly, if at all, understood in the west. This lack of understanding puts Europe at a significant disadvantage in being able to negotiate an end to this crisis.

Whereas prior to these events the Russians were rather content to consider themselves “just another European country,” they have now remembered that they are a distinct civilization, with different civilizational roots (Byzantium rather than Rome)—one that has been subject to concerted western efforts to destroy it once or twice a century, be it by Sweden, Poland, France, Germany, or some combination of the above. This has conditioned the Russian character in a specific set of ways which, if not adequately understood, is likely to lead to disaster for Europe and the world.

Orlov’s piece is a great primer for any westerner that wants to get some context about U.S.-Russian relationships outside of Obama’s isolationist propaganda. It is this sort of propaganda that Obaba is advancing that jeopardizes world safety by falsely implying that his overt foreign policy of sanctions is succeeding, and eggs on neocons and Congress to double down.

It will be a continuation and expansion of these policies that will further drive Russia from any sort of meaningful engagement with the west, and into the solidification of alliances with China and India that will pit nearly half the world’s population and economy against the U.S. and Europe’s. Is this what we and the world really need?

And lastly, after beginning this piece talking about the newly approved high-speed rail link between Moscow and Beijing, and all of the symbolism it encompasses, I would be remiss in not mentioning how it all will be financed. After all $242 billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at.

First off, the new railway alliance has dumped the French contractor it had agreed to work with last year on developing the system. It isn’t hard to see that when the U.S. forces France into doing things like breaking its contracts to build and deliver two helicopter-carrying Mistral naval vessels, there would be some blowback.

So instead of paying France’s Alstrom around $40 billion for it’s part in the project (utilizing conventional wheeled high-speed rail), they awarded the contract to CRH (China Railway High-speed) and added on another 100 billion dollars to use state-of-the-art maglev technology to increase safety and speed.

But the coup de grâce appears to be that Obama’s “isolated” Russia is a little less isolated than it might seem in other areas:

Gennady Timchenko, a well-connected billionaire who after appearing on Western sanctions lists earlier this year was appointed head of the Russian-Chinese Business Council, told reporters on Thursday that he was optimistic that China would provide financial support for the project, which he said could carry more than 200 million passengers a year. 

China holds over $2 trillion in U.S. Treasury bills that offer no real returns, but “investment in the railway would pay for itself,” Timchenko said. “Maybe not overnight, but we would create infrastructure connecting Asia with Europe for future generations.”

Yes, Russia and China are going to use China’s U.S. T-bond holdings to finance the railway. That’s some real isolationism for ya. Way to go, Obama!

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CIA Torture was “contrary to who we are”

— Barack Obama 

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time till the pollsters revealed that yes, it is who we are. And this is how the rest of the world sees us.

In a WaPo-ABC News poll out today, it appears that the subversion of American morality has been completed:

A majority of Americans believe that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

By an almost 2-1 margin, or 59-to-31 percent, those interviewed support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying they produced valuable intelligence.

In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”

This is a sad day for America, and those Americans who disapproved of our military “strategy.” Our chickens will inevitably come home to roost, as any nation of torturers will eventually pay the price for its evil. Today I am not proud to call myself an “American.”

nation-of-torturers

By JC

Says Babushka to Obamashka:

“I will make you pancakes my child,
just don’t make war on people.”

Must be some new-fangled form of Russian propaganda, no?

By JC

Well, it was just a matter of time till President Obama revealed his all-encompassing foreign policy statement. Yesterday, speechifying in front of the U.N. General Assembly, Obama made it perfectly clear what his foreign policy consists of:

“We believe that right makes might…”

Uh, um, ok. I think that historians will have a hey-day with that one. And wedged somewhere in-between ebola and ISIL, he manages to paint Russia even further into a corner:

“We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and counter falsehoods with the truth. We call upon others to join us on the right side of history…

This speaks to a central question of our global age: whether we will solve our problems together, in a spirit of mutual interests and mutual respect, or whether we descend into destructive rivalries of the past.”

Unfortunately, Obama has lost Putin’s ear. Once upon a time, those of us who grew up in the Cold War 1.0 found cold comfort of the images of the two presidents of the two superpowers chock full of nuclear weapons carrying around brief cases (we called ours “the football”). Our existential anxiety was ameliorated by the new-fangled communication systems, and photos of the red phone at the desk of each president so they could always be in constant contact with each other (except when Yeltsin was too drunk, or Reagan too senile, or Clinton too… “preoccupied”), and ward off any mistaken notions of aggression that could trigger pushing the fatal fateful button.

But in today’s neocon-fueled foreign policy, we have an administration that relies on subversion, propaganda, strong arm tactics and innuendo to convey a sideways message to our counterpart in eurasia. MAD (mutually assured destruction) foreign policy was based on the notion that there were two rational actors on the world stage, and that given the choice between blowing the world up in a flurry of nuclear strikes or talking, the two actors would talk.

Well, those days are long gone, and while both superpowers have embarked each on a trillion dollar fools errand to “modernize” their nuclear weapons systems, it seems that the comforting visage of MAD has gone south, and rational actors have left the scene. It seems that when Obama calls Putin that he is getting shuffled off on voice mail, only to discover that the mailbox is full, as Andy Borowitz reports:

“In what he called “a provocative and defiant act,” President Obama charged on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has started letting his calls go directly to voice mail.”

Sometimes humor is a cruel revealer of what may have come to pass between the world’s superpowers. No longer do we hear of any efforts of diplomacy between Obama and Putin. It is all saber rattling on our side, and disbelief in what an empire in chaos and decline is doing to the “New World Order.” Here’s Henry Kissinger:

“Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis…

But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.”

I guess when the New World Order starts eroding, and Henry Kissinger becomes worried, and President Obama amplifies the Bush Doctrine, then, what is there left to do… besides renew my passport? Duck & Cover?

 

By JC

“There Will Likely be Misinformation” — Barack Obama

How prescient and self aware!

BO: We don’t have time for propaganda… Evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile that was launched from an area that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists inside of Ukraine.

Evidence? What evidence?

RT: However, it is unclear who fired the missile or where it was fired from. US intelligence officials believe the attack from an area controlled by the pro-Russian separatists, according to the president…

A Ukrainian Buk anti-aircraft missile battery was operational in the region, the Russian Defense Ministry said, contradicting Kiev’s statements. The battery was deployed at a site from which it could have fired a missile at the airliner, the ministry said in a statement. It said radiation from the battery’s radar was detected by the Russian military.

Wouldn’t be the first time the Ukranian military took down a civilian airliner:

BO: We also know that this is not the first time a plane has been shot down in eastern Ukraine.

The Telegraph: Ukraine admits it shot down Russian airliner [in 2001]

Ukraine finally admitted yesterday that its military shot down a Russian airliner that crashed into the Black Sea last week, killing all 78 passengers and crew. Evhen Marchuk, the chairman of Ukraine’s security council, conceded that the plane had probably been brought down by “an accidental hit from an S-200 rocket fired during exercises”.

And who is supporting whom? Pot calling the kettle black??? Continue Reading »

By JC

In today’s edition of “Views From Inside the Fishbowl”, we have retired Congressman and professor Pat Williams weighing in on the putsch in Ukraine, and the subsequent overwhelming vote of Crimeans’ desire for self-determination to return to the Russian Federation.

Seems that  it is this sort of world view that separates those that are immersed in American propaganda and empire building, from those who are not:

“…That word “empire” applies to only one nation, the United States. We reject it, of course, because it smacks of imperialism with which we are entirely uncomfortable. Our destiny, as Americans see it, is to be a welcoming beacon of freedom….

Ours is the benevolent voice of benign empire… America accepts the obligation of a powerful and free people to assist others around the world with purity of purpose and without the constant calculation of self-interest….

Perhaps, just perhaps, the nations of the world will adopt responsibility and respect toward neighbors with the understanding that watchful United Nations, NATO and U.S. military forces are ever present just over the horizon.”

Read the whole thing to understand what has happened to Democrat’s vision of foreign policy. Williams deftly outlines what will become known as the Obama Doctrine: “the benevolent voice of benign empire.”

Joseph Goebbels would be proud to see how his writings have reached across time and space to influence empire builders in the 21st century, and the concepts taught to a new generation of youth.

by Pete Talbot

And here I thought Sen. Max Baucus was retiring from the U.S. Senate so he could spend more time in Montana with his lovely, young wife.  He’s even building a home in the Bozeman area.

It looks like I was wrong.  The blogs are awash with the news that Max will most likely be the next U.S. Ambassador to China.  I won’t link to them all — they range from kudos to criticism — and you’ve probably already read them.  Here’s the NY Times story, though.

Now China will be his legacy since tax reform is off the table and the Affordable Care Act isn’t exactly being warmly embraced.

The big question: who will be appointed by Gov. Bullock as Baucus’ place holder until the 2014 election?

Ahh, to be a fly on the wall in those smoke-filled back rooms (although not as smokey as they used to be thanks to anti-tobacco trends).  Who to pick: Lt. Gov. John Walsh, Brian Schweitzer, Pat or Carol Williams, one of our Tier-B women (Juneau, McCulloch, Lindeen)?

Now former Baucus/Obama staffer Jim Messina is being mentioned.  How the hell did he get in the mix?

And if Bullock appoints Walsh, who will he then appoint as lieutenant governor?  (Bohlinger?  That would be ironic, n’est pas?)

I’m sure all these questions were hashed out and answered many months ago by the powers that be.  The rest of us are just along for the ride.

UPDATE: It’s official.  Obama nominates Baucus for Ambassador to China position.  Max’s appointment should sail through Senate hearings.

By JC

I guess that nation-building/dictator-deposing democracy and freedom-exporting thing is rearing its ugly head once more. This really sickens me. The current administration really is no better than Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld. Democrat, Republican… it makes no difference.

Via the Washington Post:

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done.

“Not in the cards” — then why bring it up?

“nobody’s talking about it” — except the Secretary of State of the new Mercenary States of America.

“they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done” — yep, just like we did in Iraq.

I think that poli-speak on this would be something like: we’re just warming up the populace to our real intentions, and floating the real scenario, so when the invasion begins, we can say we told you so.

What was it that Wolfowitz said about oil in Iraq paying for the war? Oh yeah: “Well, the Iraqi oil revenues will pay for all of this, basically.”

Same story, new decade.

“Services: Death of Wife/ Qty: 1/ Unit Price $2,500.”
— Iraq Body Count

By JC

23 March 2003:

“Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is “as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed” but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil. She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body. The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs ­ they were bound up with gauze ­ and, far more seriously, into her spine. Now she has lost all movement in her left leg.

Her mother bends over the bed and straightens her right leg which the little girl thrashes around outside the blanket. Somehow, Doha’s mother thinks that if her child’s two legs lie straight beside each other, her daughter will recover from her paralysis. She was the first of 101 patients brought to the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital after America’s blitz on the city began on Friday night. Seven other members of her family were wounded in the same cruise missile bombardment; the youngest, a one-year-old baby, was being breastfed by her mother at the time.” — From “This is the reality of war. We bomb. They suffer.” 

Who will punish America’s government and military for the taking of civilian lives in Iraq, and the impending slaughter of innocent civilians, women and children in Syria by our weapons of shock and awe mass destruction?

One might think that if our Administration feels morally obligated to punish someone in Syria for the deaths of civilians in Syria (allegedly at the hands of Assad) that we might expect ourselves to observe the same judgment at some point in time (remember the Nuremburg trials?).

The PLOS Medicine journal estimates that 11,516 civilians were killed by American and Coalition forces in the first 5 years of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

In temporal analysis, numbers of civilian deaths from Coalition air attacks, and woman and child deaths from Coalition forces, peaked during the invasion. We applied a Woman and Child “Dirty War Index” (DWI), measuring the proportion of women and children among civilian deaths of known demographic status, to the 22,066 civilian victims identified as men, women, or children to indicate relatively indiscriminate perpetrator effects… Coalition forces had higher Woman and Child DWIs than Anti-Coalition forces, with no evidence of decrease over 2003–2008, for all weapons combined and for small arms gunfire, specifically.

Now is a good time to review the costs to Iraqi civilians — the 10’s of thousands of men, women and children — that we killed in the name of Operation Iraqi Freedom. One just needs to spend some time at IraqBodyCount.org to be reminded that our  attempt at nation building and exporting freedom & democracy — American style — dealt a heavy death toll to innocent civilians and children.

So when our present imperial president says he is going to engage in military action (with the acquiescence of Congress or not) to punish Syria for those 1500 deaths he’s feeling vindictive over, just how much civilian blood on our own hands are we willing to accept? 5? 50? 500? 5,000? 50,000? More? Throw enough hundred dollar bills at affected family members to assuage our guilt, then turn our backs?

Here is just one snippet from Iraq Body Count on how our military handles the cost of punishing and exacting revenge upon a dictator with no WMD’s:

“The Price of Loss: How the West values civilian lives in Iraq.” — by Lily Hamourtziadou, 12 November 2007

The American military has expressed regret “that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” after the 11 October killing of 15 women (one pregnant) and children in an air raid near lake Thar Thar. The civilian death toll by US fire was 96 in October, with 23 children among them, while in September US forces and contractors killed 108 Iraqi civilians, including 7 children. In August US troops killed 103 civilians, 16 of them children, and in July they killed 196. In fact, during the last five months US forces in Iraq have killed over 600 Iraqi civilians. Regrettably, as always.

It is the ‘price to pay’, the ‘sacrifice’ that has to be made as we fight terrorism, the ‘cost’ of this war against evil forces. That is what we say to justify these killings. But those of us who speak of this price to be paid, this sacrifice to be made, do not pay this price, do not make this sacrifice. Our own country is not being destroyed, attacked, occupied. Our own children are not being blown up, our civilians are not becoming homeless by the millions. Those who speak of the necessity of this sacrifice, would they be prepared to pay such a price? In their own country? With the blood of their own families? 

How much easier it is to sacrifice others, to let others pay with their lives. The value of those lives is hardly high enough to trouble us. It is nothing our military cannot afford. Here is an example:

“A fisherman was fishing in the Tigris river in the early morning, when a Coalition Forces (CF) helicopter flew over and shone a spotlight on him. The fisherman began to shout in English, ‘Fish! Fish!’ while pointing to his catch. A patrol of Humvees arrived, and as the deceased bent down to turn off the boat’s motor, CF shot and killed him. CF did not secure the boat, which drifted off and was never retrieved.” Compensation for death denied due to combat exemption; compensation for boat granted: $3,500 US.

The US Army paid $7,500 to two children whose mother they killed inside a taxi that ran a checkpoint — both children were also in the taxi, and were shot and injured; they also paid $6,000 for killing a child looking out of the window, while a raid was on-going in the house across the street. They refused, as they do in the majority of cases, to compensate the child whose father they killed as he drove home, but agreed to make a ‘condolence payment’ of $1,500. More recently, the US military is reported to have paid $2,500 to each family of the three men they killed near Abu Lukah, as they guarded their village.

There are more: Continue Reading »

By JC

In the never-ending, and escalating drumbeat for war that has possessed our nation for generations, I thought this might be a good time for an anti-war lament. Charlotte E. Keyes is the poet who popularized the phrase “Suppose they gave a war and no one came?” in a 1966 McCall’s article.

While there is much debate and discussion about the origins of that phrase and its variations — and any who want to explore the googlizer can learn far more about the works of Sandburg, Bertold Brecht, and Ginsburg  — it is the sentiment that needs to be revisited.

I came of age in that era of senseless war, with brooding pacifism busting it’s head against a corrupt system, coming to the same conclusion as the boy in this poem: “Then governments I don’t like either.” And I’m still coming to grips with how it was to grow up in a cold warrior’s family.

Needless to say, I was one who burned his draft card and planned an escape to Canada should the lottery have claimed my soul before the Vietnam war ended.

Food for thought in an era devoid of any meaningful anti-war movement in America. Find the poem after the jump.

Continue Reading »

By JC

Never trust a man who don’t wash his own dishes.

by JC

stasi-2-205pxThis will be a very long post. I would break it up into manageable chunks, but I fear that having to defend my writings from entrenched stalwarts of the status quo in the democratic party would sidetrack this post.

There is an intersection of events and ideas that together lead to a much darker conclusion than addressing them individually. It is no secret that Edward Snowden has unleashed a firestorm of debate with his revelations about the state of surveillance in America, and around the world. That topic alone is far too large for one post to address, but it has unveiled some interesting material to work with.

The photo to the right is from protest signs being carried around various protests in Germany this summer, organized against the collusion of the American and German spy networks.

President Jimmy Carter rocked the foreign media last month with a statement he made in Atlanta at a conference on U.S.-German relations:

“America has no functioning democracy at this moment”

The quote was not covered by any major American media, but was reported in Germany’s Der Spiegel. Carter further went on to show support for Edward Snowden:

“‘… I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far,’ he said.

‘I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that [Snowden’s] bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.’

Asked to elaborate, he said, ‘I think the American people deserve to know what their Congress is doing.'”

Continue Reading »

By JC

“President Barack Obama’s inauguration committee will accept unlimited corporate contributions to fund its January festivities, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed…”

Need we pretend anymore who runs this country?

by Pete Talbot

The tackiest thing I ever saw at a Montana Democratic Party Convention, and I’ve been to a bunch of them, was a little dog that had Judy Martz written on a tag hanging from its collar.  It was sitting in a woman’s lap.  This was from Gov. Martz’ famous line, “I’ll be a lapdog for industry.”

Classy?  Probably not.  Amusing?  Yeah, somewhat.

Compared to the bullet-laden outhouse referred to as the Obama Presidential Library that is gracing the Montana Republican Party Convention here in Missoula, the little lapdog gag seems pretty innocent.

Also included in the outhouse were a fake Obama birth certificate stamped “Bullshit” and “For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)”

I like to think I have a sense of humor.  This is not humorous. Remember when President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley? Pretty funny stuff, right?  That’s the level of this joke.

Even party chairman Will Deschamps said, “Some of that stuff is not real good taste” — although he went on to say, “It’s not something I’m going to agonize over” and dismissed it as “a sideshow.”  Who are these people?

Is the general public even paying attention?  It keeps clamoring for bipartisanship in our elected officials.  How do you compromise with people like that?  I sure hope the voters remember this crap when they go to the polls in November.

UPDATES: John Adams at The Lowdown, has more detail, and photos, of the scene outside the GOP convention.

Adams also reports that Montana Republicans removed the “homosexuality is a crime” plank from their platform although their support for “traditional marriage” remains in the language. This is still a smart move if the party wants to attract younger voters into the fold. Kudos for bucking the far right on this controversial, for the GOP anyway, plank.

by jhwygirl

When bigots and racists are allowed in the very institutions that implement law on the public individual, the whole legal system is called into question.

Makes me also wonder about what we don’t hear. This latest story from Great Falls Tribune Helena bureau reporter John S. Adams leaves me with the startling realization that the people employed at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency making decisions over who to investigate and prosecute for immigration violations can be bonafide bigots.

Last September, ICE officer Bruce Norum sent Helena immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath a long-circulated Islamophobic email titled “You worry me.” Shahid is a Muslim and a natural born citizen of the United States, raised by parents who immigrated from Pakistan. He is also a well-respected attorney who has been honored for his pro bono work assisting low-income Montanans.

Haque-Hausrath details the event, and subsequent suspension-pending-investigation of ICE officer Brude Norum on his blog. Go read it in his own words. He also links to the GFT John S. Adams news articles.

Last Monday, as Adams reports in today’s paper, Haque-Hausrath and his attorney met with ICE officials who told him that Bruce Norum would be reinstated in his same supervisory position. They offered nothing more than the explanation that it was a personnel matter.

While local ICE officials did not return calls, an ICE spokesperson out of Dallas said that they would look into it – but hadn’t responded to inquiries to that progress as of late Friday.

Haque-Hausrath isn’t pleased. Neither am I as I read this – Norum is the senior most ICE official here in Montana. He oversees immigration operations here in Montana and makes decisions on whether to arrest or investigate suspected undocumented aliens or to detain or deport individuals.

Apparently you can be a racist, work in ICE enforcing U.S. immigration law, and also openly espouse unconstitutional views.

Oh – and harass private individuals with hate-filled emails.

~~~~~~
Montana sure isn’t a strange to these kind of brazen hate mongers – chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Richard Cebull sent out racist anti-Obama email last February, and defended it, saying that he simply didn’t like President Obama and that he didn’t send it because of the racists content (which he acknowledged.)

I’ll note that supermontanareporter John S. Adams broke that story, too.

Cebull eventually apologized but it took a few days. Multiple human rights entities petitioned for his resignation. Two ranking Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have since called for a congressional hearing into Cebull’s email, and a judiciary panel has been investigating the matter since April.

Cebull is still sitting on the bench – we’ve yet to hear if the panel will find him in violation of the ethical standards befitting a judge. I’m sure that panel is just hoping it’ll all fade away. I doubt it. National attention has been thrust upon Cebull, with Mother Jones questioning his ethics, the Washington Post reporting on the investigation, and even the New York Times called for his resignation.

Montana has racists, sure it does – and it’s America with ’em in its courts and Department of Homeland Security.

By JC

Just a quickie here today to tie together Jhwygirl’s recent uncovering of another of Missoula’s nanny state laws and the shrinking 4th Amendment with Lizard’s ongoing analysis of foreign policy American Imperialism and the democratic party, and Political Nihilism.

For those who pay attention to such things, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week to cement in place some foreign policy tactics in a withering of 4th Amendment protections. David Bromwich does an excellent job connecting the dots between democrats’ lilly-livered approach to both reigning in American Hegemony, and  protecting civil liberties in his recent article “Strip Search Nation (Including The Authoritarian Catechism):”

What might easily not be known about this case [Florence v. County of Burlington]… is that the Obama administration sided with the authoritarians on the court in supporting the right of prison officials to command a strip search. A Justice Department lawyer, Nicole A. Saharsky, offered these words to clarify the view shared by President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder: “When you have a rule that treats everyone the same, you don’t have folks that are singled out. You don’t have any security gaps.” The Obama case for abrogation of the fourth amendment in prison thus turns on a lofty non-discriminatory aim: the safety and democracy of prisons. A level playing field of humiliation.

But is it true to say that no “folks” are “singled out” by such a procedure? Albert Florence [whom had been arrested for not paying a fine, which in fact he had already paid] is a black man. In 2009, blacks made up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but they were 39.4 percent of the prison population. So let us say it straight. The Obama-Holder view favors the universal application of the strip-search to a situation where some folks, after all, have been singled out as an observable pattern of the usual practice of the system.

Well, of course we all want to say this could never happen to any of us, but here is what the Obama Administration just acquiesced to for treatment of any of us being brought into custody for any reason–yes even a cell phone texting, non-fine paying warrant, in Missoula:

Petitioner [Florence] claims that he also had to open his mouth, lift his tongue, hold out his arms, turn around, and lift his genitals. At the second jail, petitioner, like other arriving detainees, had to remove his clothing while an officer looked for body markings, wounds, and contraband; had an officer look at his ears, nose, mouth, hair, scalp, fingers, hands, armpits, and other body openings; had a mandatory shower; and had his clothes examined. Petitioner claims that he was also required to lift his genitals, turn around, and cough while squatting.”

So think about that next time you get all cocky about thumbing your nose at Missoula’s nanny laws.

But to link this move with our country’s foreign policy escapades, Bromwich offers the following:

“Foreign policy has come home in the form of pepper spray, Tasers, and strip searches. But there is a practice closer to the Florence case. A mass experiment in the reduction of political self-respect occurs and is reinforced every day, in every airport in the country, in the body scans and pat-downs performed by the TSA. Some of the latter work is necessary, of course, while a strip search of a man with a parking ticket is not necessary. Still, the common experience and the exceptional one are clearly related. The government wore people down and achieved acceptance of the first practice, and that prepared the way for official endorsement of the second. Once again, a political and moral aberration has been redescribed and turned into an approved policy…

Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent: “such a search of an individual arrested for a minor offense that does not involve drugs or violence — say a traffic offense, a regulatory offense, an essentially civil matter, or any other such misdemeanor — is an ‘unreasonable search’ forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, unless prison authorities have reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual possesses drugs or other contraband.” You do not have to be an elaborately educated or refined reader of the Constitution to judge that such indeed is the meaning of the fourth amendment.

The words are great and they deserve to be remembered. Here is what the fourth amendment says:

~The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.~

How steep is the descent from these words to the new rule by which a majority of the Supreme Court, with a president and an attorney general at their side, have now elected to challenge the constitutional presumption against arbitrary searches and seizures? We will know for sure when we see the next in the series of anti-Constitutional experiments begun by Bush and Cheney and continued by Barack Obama.”

I’ll leave you all with this wonderful little ditty Bromwich included (after the jump), to remind you of your place in the democrat version of the New World Order: Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

The folks who practice in front of Judge Cebull say he’s a stand-up kinda guy.  What else are they going to say?  Also …

“Many of the attorneys contacted for this story declined to comment on the record,” says the Great Falls Tribune.  And there aren’t any quotes in the article from those who may have been wronged in court (read: potential appellants) or comments from other federal judges (surprise, surprise).

Cebull has apologized and has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to investigate.  He admitted that the content of the email was “racist” and “awful,” but said that he is not racist.

“I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama,” said the judge.

This story will play out for months, mostly under the radar.  Here’s the background for those who’ve been away from the news.

Another anti-Obama slam, this time directed at a Georgetown University law student, came from right-wing spokesman Rush Limbaugh.  He called an advocate for birth-control coverage at religious institutions a “slut.”  You know the story but here’s a recap.

Limbaugh finally apologized but not until Republicans started distancing themselves from the remarks and advertisers cancelled.

Anyway, I expect this sort of anti-Obama, misogynistic trash from Limbaugh; not so much from Montana’s chief federal judge.

Living in Missoula, most of the criticism of Obama that I hear comes from the left, so I’m always amazed at the vitriol that comes from the right.  I’m talking a deep-rooted hatred.  The right wingers didn’t like Bill Clinton (“Slick Willie, as they called him) either, but there didn’t seem to be such a profound hatred.  And Clinton’s and Obama’s policies arent all that different.

So I have to wonder if there isn’t a little racism in this hatred from the right.

by jhwygirl

Just a quick hit on this one: I’m sure everyone’s heard the news earlier this week that President Obama has blessed his very own Super Pac, something he had rejected in the past.

Of course, he’s still cleaner, somehow. This, from Jay Carney, White House spokesperson:

He said Obama still refuses lobbyist and PAC money in his campaign account, “which distinguishes him from any of his potential … general-election opponents.”

Who’s out calming the bankers? Montana’s very own Jim Messina headed to Wall Street on Tuesday to let them know who Obama doesn’t have a problem with:

At the members-only Core Club in Manhattan, Messina provided a campaign briefing last night for some of the president’s top donors, including Ralph Schlosstein, chief executive officer at Evercore Partners Inc., and his wife, Jane Hartley, co-founder of the economic and political advisory firm Observatory Group LLC; Eric Mindich, founder of Eton Park Capital Management LP; and Ron Blaylock, co-founder of GenNx360 Capital Partners…..

In response to a question, Messina told the group of Wall Street donors that the president plans to run against Romney, not the industry that made the former governor of Massachusetts millions, according to one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Does this cause me some burn? You betcha. Messina – Obama’s campaign manager – justifies his actions by saying “We can’t allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm.”

Well..there’s certainly an element of truth to what he says – but it’s also a two-wrongs-make-a-right defense, imo. I don’t know that it makes it OK.

At the very least, it’s a trench on a high hill that has now been ceded by Obama.

By Lesley Lotto

It doesn’t get any weirder than this does it?  The party of Ronald Reagan cannot make up its mind who to take to the election next year.  Another month, another front-runner.  Shall the candidate be a strong woman ala Michele Bachman or Sarah Palin, one of two Mormon men (only one of which is even remotely qualified), a bumbling, stumbling seemingly perpetually drunk cowboy Governor from Texas (been there, done that), a philanderer (been there squared) business mogul, a former Governor who’s even less exciting to watch than paint drying, a man with a last name you probably don’t want to Google, a Constitutionalist Congressman, an orange man with something resembling hair on his head, but alas not distracting enough to take away from his immeasurable arrogance or the former Speaker of the House whose own party chewed him up and spit him out back in the day.

From what I remember near the start of this whole charade…err New Year, it was Michele Bachman, the hot Congresswoman from Minnesota who was the front runner to face off with President Obama for the election in 2012.  Heck we’ve been talking about the 2012 election since January of 2008 when crazed racists came out of the wood work screaming “socialist”, claiming to be the so-called “Tea Party” of today and saying our President was going to take their hard-earned money like Robin Hood but not leave them with their weapons, for shame! Bachman was the Tea Party’s answer, her less government no more taxes message really seemed to resonate with that crowd.  They even gave her the soap box to respond to the President’s first joint address to Congress.  But it was super awkward, to say the least.  Apparently no one had clued her in that she should look into the camera, so she stared off into space leaving the Partiers holding their Tea with their jaws on the floor and no way to pick them back up.  Her campaign became sort of the what “made up story” will silly Michele say today as her husband spends their money buying her stylish pant suits and eye lash extensions.

Remember Tim Pawlenty?  Me either.

I didn’t even know much about Rick Santorum who also announced early on to crowds of people yawning.  So I Googled him, yeah I knew he was in the U.S. Senate, but what did he do or stand for I wondered and what made Rick think he was qualified? Wow, what Google comes up with should be censored and now I’ve lost interest…

Sarah Palin had been asked a gazillion times if she’d run after she shot on to the public stage the last go round, but she was hanging on to the bitter end, squeezing out every last dollar from the poor mid-westerners who pinned her up on the wall and gladly taking their last dollar that could have paid for the final mortgage payment before their unemployment ran out before she bailed.  Did anyone actually think she was in this for anything other than the cabbage? She did however meet with The Donald and his hair (does that thing have a leash?).

Trump said he was toying with the idea of running for President too because Obama was allowing China to have all of the power and we couldn’t have that. Heck his pinky alone has more talent in it than anyone else running on the Republican side and he saw no reason to allow any other buffoon stay on the trail and take the spotlight away from his comb over.  He was so up in arms about the economic meltdown that he cursed like a sailor at a ladies group who begged him to run and appeared breathlessly with his fur Stole, I mean handsomely coiffed hair, on cable show after cable show until the finale of “The Apprentice” aired which was when he bailed like Palin.

But then wait, there’s Chris Christie, that enigmatic Governor from New Jersey who’s slashing and cutting while shoe-horning himself into a government helicopter to catch his son’s school athletics.  He said over and over he wasn’t running for office, even asking “what do I have to do to get people to believe me, commit suicide?”. Uhm, wow dude.  There are no words.

Then it was Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas riding in on his white horse to the rescue.  Only the horse wasn’t really white, it was more like ash-gray with sickly spots all over it.  The guy sounds like he’s on any number of pills mixed with booze and always has these wacky looks on his face as he forgets key departments of government he wants to do away with, because heck, government’s too big and we should secede or somethin’.  It’s a miracle he’s still in this thing.

Does anyone remember Herman Cain?  He was the Godfather’s Pizza guy with a perpetual hard-on campaigning endlessly even though any number of women might have come out of the woodwork saying they’d been either harassed or in some sort of sordid affair with him.  He finally put his “campaign” (read: lengthy book tour, way to meet chicks) “on suspension” which was basically a huge relief to the racists, liberals and righty’s and anyone else he deemed was out to get him.  (I personally prayed he’d stay the front runner because nothing would have been more exciting to watch with my air-popped non-GMO Organic Popcorn than Cain trying to debate President Obama on Foreign Policy issues.)

Newt Gingrich looked like he was out months ago.  His campaign imploded at the same time it was revealed he had spent a little too much on his 3rd wife, Calista at Tiffanys and on vacations (lord knows you gotta keep a woman who looks like she’s perpetually scared somewhat smiling or all hell could break loose).  With all due respect to the Newster, he was booted out of one of the most powerful positions in the world by his own peeps!  The press keeps saying he’s the front runner and that he’s surging, but all I can think about is his goofy arrogance.  He proclaimed weeks ago that indeed he would be the nominee, but the people in Iowa, the state where the first primary is happening, haven’t allowed his surge.  He’s 4th in the Iowa polls as I write this.

Poor Mitt Romney, always the bridesmaid, never the bride.  He’s been campaigning since before it was cool.  He’s been out on the trail trying to win a seat, any seat, FOR YEARS. And since he has an ung-dly amount of money and can flip flop from one topic to the next without skipping a beat, you’d think he’d be the perfect candidate, but wait now there just a minute.  Shhh… he’s a Mormon.  We can’t have any of that.  I mean, first it’s a black socialist President, then a Fundamentalist in Magic Underwear?  No way! Way. Jon Huntsman is also a Mormon and the only one, sadly, of the entire lot that even knows what the heck he’s talking about.  But his previous alliance to Obama as the Ambassador to China is bad, really bad. Plus he believes in that Climate Change thingy.  He must not be wearing his magic underwear, because he usually gets a roll of the eye and 7th place.

And then there’s the poorest of them all, Ron Paul, another perennial POTUS candidate.  People really do seem to love Paul and his less government, fire everyone and make me King message.  He’s on top or maybe 2nd in Iowa depending on which poll you read.  I can’t figure out if I like or hate Dr. Paul. Plus there’s those “Newsletters”. Some of his platform makes perfect sense to me, while other parts don’t make any sense to me and that’s the rub right there.  The Republican candidates, much like their party can’t seem to make up their minds what they’re for.  It’s important for less government, but we want to tell women how to live and what they can do with their bodies, Paul, the former OB-GYN helped more than 4,000 babies come into the world.  If he fails to win the nod from his party, and since he’s said he’s not running again for Congress, he may have to spend his golden years on a throne back in Texas overseeing his own personal palace.  All hail the King or something.

By JC

Don’t shoot the messenger, but this can’t end well for democrats:

The presages a nasty negative campaign from Obama as a last ditch effort to be the lesser of two evils. Which of course will depress turnout. And all those coattails in 2008? Gone.

Obviously, “Cut the Crap” style boosterism and attacks designed to shame wavering democrats (and whoever else party insiders deem worthy of guilting) back into the fold–and demonizing critics into outcast and scapegoat territory–isn’t working. Or so the polls seem to show that despite dems “best” efforts in the blogosphere and elsewhere the economic reality of our country is taking the presidency under. The drop in support among democrats is particularly telling.

Dems ready for 4 more years… of republican rule? Or are they ready to get a backbone and get to work on things like this? Political salvation lies only in constructing the 4th separation of powers. Of course, the man at the top would have to renounce his unholy corporate alliance to Wall Street, and start doing the people’s work. “Poll after poll has shown that Americans oppose Citizens United by about 4 to 1” (as Missoula’s referendum on Corporate Personhood victory recently showed).

What’s it going to be Mr. President? Abdicate to the republican wing of the corporate party? Or align yourself with the people?

by jhwygirl

The artist who did the original Hope poster for Obama – LA artist Shepard Fairey – has just designed his second #occupywallstreet poster.

Quite the message.

by Pete Talbot

“I shouldn’t say this …” Conrad Burns said. It was the only accurate statement he made all day.

He then went on to insult Indians, Wall Street occupiers and the President.

He was talking to a small tea party crowd in Billings, an event organized by Americans for Prosperity and underwritten by the billionaire Koch brothers.

I’ve been waiting for another Montana blogger to write about this (Montana Cowgirl, Pogie?) but haven’t seen a thing. Maybe Conrad’s speech was so obtuse it didn’t deserve notice. I, however, think it might because it mirrors the far-right’s rhetoric of ignorance, intolerance and racism.

Ignorance: “Burns was there to ‘expose the Obama administration’s $40 billion energy tax grab that will destroy jobs, decrease government revenues at a time of exploding national debt and make America less competitive.'”

In reality, the idea is to eliminate taxpayer-financed oil subsidies and tax breaks, and reinvest the $40 billion into social programs, green energy and job creation, according to Forcechange.com. C’mon Conrad, continued subsidies for oil companies with record-breaking profits are going to reduce the deficit, destroy jobs and make America less competitive? Well, it might give the oil companies slightly less money to employ corporate mouthpieces such as yourself.

Intolerance: On the Wall Street/Missoula/Helena/etc. occupiers, Burns said: “I feel sorry for these kids. They’re kind of spoiled. They’re down there having a hissy fit. They don’t know who they’re mad at.”

Oh, they know who they’re mad at, these spoiled kids, it’s the likes of you: politicians who push economic inequality, and advance the financial institutions responsible for a recession that’s crippling middle-class Montanans and devastating the poor.

Racism: “We got a guy in the White House (who) believes all of us should be dependent on the government,” Burns said. “I shouldn’t say this, but he wants this whole country to become like an Indian reservation.”

Conrad is on the record as a bigot: Arabs, African-Americans and now, Native Americans. Those damn Indians … and after all that the government has done for them. (R.I.P. Elouise Cobell. Please ignore Burns’ spiteful comments.)

So Conrad is still out there. He’s working for GAGE, a Leo Giacometto/Son-of-Rehberg Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, and spewing far-right rhetoric.

In these troubled times, do we really need the former Senator sowing seeds of hate, divisiveness and malice. I think not.

By JC

Well, I guess Senator Tester and his “centrist” coalition finally may have gotten on to something:

“In other words, there is a bipartisan majority — of opposition to the president. Certainly a President Romney or a President Bachmann could put together a coalition of Republicans and moderate Democrats to get quite a lot done. And that is ultimately the problem with Obama’s strategy. You can only run against “obstructionists” if your own agenda is widely popular and credible. Obama doesn’t have that. His own party knows it. The voters know it. And the GOP presidential candidates know it.”

So, a few senators are more than willing to sacrifice having a democrat re-elected to the white house in ’12 so they can hold on to their seats. Then again, as Rubin says, maybe those senators are more interested in bipartisanship that aligns themselves with republican legislators and with a republican president, than with democracts and a democrat president.

Jes sayin’…

by jhwygirl

Don Brown in a landowner near Fort Peck who will be directly affected by the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline. He’s been a vocal opponent to the Keystone XL pipeline since early on. He’s criticized Max Baucus’s attempts at circumventing legal process for the pipeline, and more recently, he signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama that included signature of affected landowners in 5 states.

Keystone XL pipeline will utilized eminent domain to obtain the land this Canadian company needs to transport its Athabasca tar sand oil from Canada across the State of Montana and down to Texas.

This weekend Don Brown asks Montanans whether this pipeline is in our national interests. I ask whether it is in Montana’s:

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Barack Obama have a decision to make soon — whether TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is in the “national interest.”
As a landowner along the route who has much to lose when this pipeline comes through, I hope that our decision-makers are absolutely clear about whether this pipeline is in the national interest when it is permitted, but I think there are questions that still haven’t been answered.
Since TransCanada is a foreign corporation, is this pipeline in the national interest? Since this pipeline goes to a port on the Gulf Coast, and they already have a pipeline going to a refinery in Illinois (Keystone I pipeline), that would lead me to believe they plan on exporting the product carried on the Keystone XL. Is that in the national interest? And tar sands, which Keystone XL is going to be carrying, are especially corrosive, and the Keystone I pipeline has already had 14 leaks in about a year of operation — is that in our national Interest?
Should we just be the nation where the pipe crosses, potentially with leaks, en route from one foreign country to another? Is that in our national interest?

By JC

In an La Times op-ed, “Obama: A disaster for civil liberties” civil libertarian and constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley laid bare President Obama’s record.

In the post-Bush era, many dem and civil libertarian hopes have been dashed thinking that Obama would usher in a change to the draconian policies that have been implemented or escalated under the guise of a “war on terror.” In many ways, Turley’s piece has given the phrase “the terrorists have won” another layer of legitimacy.

Here is an excerpt. Go read the full article, it’s well worth it. And then get to work fighting for civil liberties and civil rights.

…Civil libertarians have long had a dysfunctional relationship with the Democratic Party, which treats them as a captive voting bloc with nowhere else to turn in elections. Not even this history, however, prepared civil libertarians for Obama. After the George W. Bush years, they were ready to fight to regain ground lost after Sept. 11. Historically, this country has tended to correct periods of heightened police powers with a pendulum swing back toward greater individual rights. Many were questioning the extreme measures taken by the Bush administration, especially after the disclosure of abuses and illegalities. Candidate Obama capitalized on this swing and portrayed himself as the champion of civil liberties.

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the “just following orders” defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.

But perhaps the biggest blow to civil liberties is what he has done to the movement itself. It has quieted to a whisper, muted by the power of Obama’s personality and his symbolic importance as the first black president as well as the liberal who replaced Bush… [read whole article].

By JC

It was just a matter of time until liberals figured out if they didn’t get an opportunity to challenge Obama on the issues of the day, that they might as well hand over the country and the ’12 election to republicans.

Last week every loyal dem’s favorite punching bag, Ralph Nader, teamed up with others to call for 6 primary opponents to challenge President Obama on specific issues:

“Without debates by challengers inside the Democratic Party’s presidential primaries, the liberal/majoritarian agenda will be muted and ignored,” Mr. Nader said in a news release. “The one-man Democratic primaries will be dull, repetitive, and draining of both voter enthusiasm and real bright lines between the two parties that excite voters.”

In search of candidates, Mr. Nader and the others sent out a letter, endorsed by 45 “distinguished leaders,” to elected officials, civic leaders, academics and members of the progressive community who specialize among other things in labor, poverty, military and foreign policy. The list, they said, also includes progressive Democrats who have held national and state office and have fought for progressive reforms…

Mr. Nader and [Cornell] West are joined by Christ Townsend, of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, and Brent Blackwelder, president emeritus of Friends of the Earth.

As the story gained steam, the Washington Post provided some more details:

Nader said Saturday it is “very unlikely” he would challenge Obama, and that he is gauging the interest of former lawmakers and governors, academics, authors and labor leaders.

The group said Saturday it is seeking six “recognizable, articulate” candidates who would not mount serious challenges to Obama, but “rigorously debate his policy stands” on issues related to labor, poverty, foreign policy, civil rights and consumer protections.

The group’s efforts come as Democrats are growing increasingly pessimistic about the country’s direction. Fewer than three-quarters of Democrats approve of Obama’s job performance, and less than a third believe the nation is headed in the right direction, according to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll

“I just want all these liberal, progressive agendas to be robustly debated. Otherwise, there will be a de facto blackout of their discussion” during next year’s campaign, Nader said.

The push garnered some support in Congress, too, and is sure to spark some hot debate among dems about their future (and probably some glee among conservatives and their t-party cheerleaders):

Some frustrated Democrats in Congress are saying that a primary challenge to President Obama would be a good thing…

Rep. Peter DeFazio said a primary would “push the president and his advisers a bit … to give us back the candidate we had three years ago.”

The Oregon Democrat pointed out that some of his colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus agree with him, but he declined to name names.

“It’s a common refrain, and it’s certainly common in my district among Democrats [because] they want the guy back that they voted for,” DeFazio said.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told The Hill a challenge “would be healthy for the party.”

Me? What took them so long? Pass the popcorn. Let the debates begin.!

By JC

Well, not quite: Tax the rich, cut Medicare and Medicaid…

40 years later, it all still makes sense (at least to this old hippy). Alvin Lee — once known as the world’s fastest guitar player — has always been one of my all-time favorite guitarists!

Open thread on Obama’s overture to the right. Lyrics after the jump. Continue Reading »




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